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Wonderment
12-06-2010, 11:11 PM
Good series of takes on the tax cuts for the rich deal at the Room For Debate (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/12/06/can-obama-win-back-his-base/no-one-wants-to-be-a-sell-out-on-a-tax-deal)feature @NYT.

Here's an excerpt from Bhead David Corn:

In Washington, bipartisan compromise is often necessary. But it ought to come at the end of a political fight -- not before one. President Obama, in the instance of this apparent tax cut compromise, seems to be settling without waging a principle-driven battle, and that is puzzling many of his progressive loyalists.

Another from Larry Sabato's piece, "Another Jimmy Carter?":

President Obama may have underestimated the backlash from the left on his tax cut compromise. Democrats are still smarting from the election results and don’t want Obama to give in so easily on what he himself has repeatedly called a matter of principle....

Would Obama have been better off adopting Senator Chuck Schumer’s clever strategy of cuts for everyone but millionaires? Perhaps. Should Obama have insisted on more concessions from Republicans, such as the passage of the Dream Act which would grant legal status to thousands of illegal immigrant students or the abolition of "don’t ask, don’t tell"? Maybe.

The president is going to have to get used to such second-guessing as he adjusts to his new, more fragile role and tries to figure out how to keep from becoming another Jimmy Carter.

operative
12-07-2010, 12:52 AM
Good series of takes on the tax cuts for the rich deal at the Room For Debate (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/12/06/can-obama-win-back-his-base/no-one-wants-to-be-a-sell-out-on-a-tax-deal)feature @NYT.

Here's an excerpt from Bhead David Corn:


Another from Larry Sabato's piece, "Another Jimmy Carter?":

I think Sabato has it right (as usual). Obama wants to triangulate now to save his hide but he has no history of actually doing so--he's been a left winger in left wing environments his whole life, from his childhood to college to his days as a community activist and then a lefty state senator. Clinton knew how to triangulate because he had to do it as governor of Arkansas. Obama's not had to do it and thus doesn't know how to approach things in a productive manner--his careerism is dominating, briefly, his lefty ideology, but the competence simply isn't there. That's what you get electing someone utterly unqualified and unprepared for the job.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 01:56 AM
Obama wants to triangulate now to save his hide but he has no history of actually doing so--he's been a left winger in left wing environments his whole life, ...

Why no one (except other wingnuts) takes the operative seriously.

graz
12-07-2010, 01:58 AM
... I think ... right(?) ... left winger in left wing ... community activist ... lefty state senator ... his lefty ideology ...

Did I mention 左 ?

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 03:05 AM
Did I mention 左 ?

大声笑

operative
12-07-2010, 10:52 AM
Why no one (except other wingnuts) takes the operative seriously.

Stating an inconvenient fact for lefties makes bjkeefe put his hands on his ears and scream "Wingnut."

Go back to insulting and obsessing over Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, creep.

stephanie
12-07-2010, 12:45 PM
I think Sabato has it right (as usual).

Sabato didn't seem to me to say much. He presented the problem (which everyone already knows) and asked some questions. Thus, I am not sure how he's "right," although he's not wrong (except, IMO, on the likelihood of a serious challenger from the left in '12).

More significantly, I don't see how he's "right" if you are reading him to say what you did below. As your own position, fine, although I think more of reflection of your own psyche than the facts, but it's not what Sabato said at all.

Obama wants to triangulate now to save his hide but he has no history of actually doing so

Also, the right isn't going along with it and the left isn't interested in triangulation. There were specific circumstances that made the Dems much more open to that in the Clinton years,* it's not a strategy that is somehow ideal for everything.

Personally, I think the better lesson from the Clinton years would have been the shut down, but oh well.

*When we all know you would have been saying stuff about Clinton's radicalism and so on. So much of what gets said now about Obama is basically repurposed '90s rhetoric. You just may be too young to realize it or conveniently forgetting.

handle
12-07-2010, 03:13 PM
Stating an inconvenient fact for lefties makes bjkeefe put his hands on his ears and scream "Wingnut."

Go back to insulting and obsessing over Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, creep.

So it's an "inconvienient fact" that the Harvard Law Review is a "left wing environment"?
Here's a link to a story. (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/us/politics/20070128_OBAMA.html)
To me the term "wingnut" is not confined to left or right, and applies to anyone willing to pass along hyperbolic misinformation to re-enforce an extreme position.

he's been a left winger in left wing environments his whole life

It appears you have met my criterion.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 03:53 PM
Go back to insulting and obsessing over Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, creep.

Speaking of obsessing ... what's this new bug up your ass? That I laughed at the Facebook kerfuffle (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=188942#post188942) from last month, or made a couple of observations about the mouth-breathers (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=188727#post188727) for whom DWTS became the most important thing in their life?

What, do you have some sort of fantasy that she's your girlfriend, and so you have to defend her honor?

Or does this just go back to when I zinged you about your new thesaurus?

In any case, it's obvious that you're spending far more time thinking about Palin's teenage daughter(s?) than I ever have.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 05:06 PM
Some data from Greg Sargent at The Plum Line (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/poll_majority_of_obama_contrib.html):

Poll: Obama supporters strongly opposed to deal extending Bush tax cuts

Okay, we now have our first poll measuring the impact on the Democratic base of Obama's support for a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts. Suffice it to say this is a major, make-or-break issue with them that could have real political ramifications for the President and Congressional Democrats.

The poll, done by the respected non-partisan firm Survey USA, surveyed over 1,000 people who contributed time or money to Obama in 2008, and found intense, overwhelming opposition among them to Obama's support for a temporary extension of the tax cuts for the rich. This supports the notion that there may indeed be a serious liberal revolt in reaction to it.

Indeed, majorities of people who contributed to Obama in 2008 say they are less likely to support Obama and Democrats because of his backing for the temporary extension.

I got an advance look at the poll, which was commissioned by MoveOn, and you can read the polling memo right here (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/PollMemo_FINAL_120710.pdf). The key findings:

The poll shows clearly that these contributors are deeply opposed (74%) to a deal with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax breaks for those making over $250,000 a year. The depth of opposition to a deal is severe with former Obama contributors saying that they are less likely (57%) to support Democrats who support this deal in 2012.

A majority of the former Obama contributors surveyed also say that the President's deal also makes them less likely (51%) to contribute to his reelection campaign in 2012.

[...]

(h/t: @tracitalynne (http://twitter.com/tracitalynne/status/12193398148562945))

Damn that far-left Obama (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=191623#post191623) for always being so far left!!!1!

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 05:31 PM
Speaking of obsessing ... what's this new bug up your ass? That I laughed at the Facebook kerfuffle (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=188942#post188942) from last month, or made a couple of observations about the mouth-breathers (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=188727#post188727) for whom DWTS became the most important thing in their life?

What, do you have some sort of fantasy that she's your girlfriend, and so you have to defend her honor?

Or does this just go back to when I zinged you about your new thesaurus?

In any case, it's obvious that you're spending far more time thinking about Palin's teenage daughter(s?) than I ever have.

Also, I do have to ask, at what point would you say it becomes okay to comment upon someone who makes this sort of consistently determined effort to keep herself in the spotlight (http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2010/12/06/bristol-palin-canardly-keep-up-with-the-disses/)?

Not that I'm asking your permission, mind.

operative
12-07-2010, 05:32 PM
Speaking of obsessing ... what's this new bug up your ass? That I laughed at the Facebook kerfuffle (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=188942#post188942) from last month, or made a couple of observations about the mouth-breathers (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=188727#post188727) for whom DWTS became the most important thing in their life?

What, do you have some sort of fantasy that she's your girlfriend, and so you have to defend her honor?

Or does this just go back to when I zinged you about your new thesaurus?

In any case, it's obvious that you're spending far more time thinking about Palin's teenage daughter(s?) than I ever have.

I've never watched any episode of any season of DWTS (unlike many conservatives, apparently), nor do I have the slightest bit of interest in Sarah Palin or any of her children (I like to be fairly private about my personal info, but I will note that my dating range is 24-32, thus making Bristol Palin a bit too young for me). And geez, if I indulged in fantasies about hypothetical girlfriends, do you really think I'd pick her? At least you didn't impute Meagan McCain upon my tastes.

My television tastes are, sad to say, much more akin to Democrats than Republicans. My taste in females...well, mostly non-Caucasian, but out of the Caucasian crop, if I were to indulge in fantasies of girlfriends I'd likely be opting for Summer Glau, Amy Adams, or Lenka.

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 05:38 PM
I've never watched any episode of any season of DWTS (unlike many conservatives, apparently), nor do I have the slightest bit of interest in Sarah Palin or any of her children (I like to be fairly private about my personal info, but I will note that my dating range is 24-32, thus making Bristol Palin a bit too young for me). And geez, if I indulged in fantasies about hypothetical girlfriends, do you really think I'd pick her? At least you didn't impute Meagan McCain upon my tastes.

My television tastes are, sad to say, much more akin to Democrats than Republicans. My taste in females...well, mostly non-Caucasian, but out of the Caucasian crop, if I were to indulge in fantasies of girlfriends I'd likely be opting for Summer Glau, Amy Adams, or Lenka.

TMI

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 05:43 PM
The President, speaking at a press conference today (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/obama-on-tax-cuts-deal-id-stick-to-my-guns-if-there-was-not-collateral-damage.php):

"Now if there was not collateral damage, if this was just a matter of my politics, or being able to persuade the American people to my side, then I would just stick to my guns," said Obama. "Because the fact of the matter is, the American people already agree with me. There are polls showing right now that the American people for the most part think it's a bad idea to provide tax cuts to the wealthy.

"But the issue is not me persuading the American people -- they're already there. The issue is, how do I persuade the Republicans in the Senate who are currently blocking that position? I have not been able to budge them. And I don't think there's any suggestion that anybody in this room thinks realistically that we can budge them right now. And in the meantime, there are a whole bunch of people being hurt, and the economy is being damaged."

Later on, Chuck Todd asked Obama how he would respond to Democratic criticism that he was rewarding the Republican strategy of intransigence.

"I've said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts," Obama answered. "I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers -- unless the hostage gets harmed. Then, people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed.'

He also said (http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/obama-dresses-down-sanctimonious-and-purist-progressives.php):

With respect to the bottom line, in terms of what my core principles are, yeah look, I've got a bunch of lines in the sand. Not making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, that was a line in the sand. Making sure that the things that most impact middle-class families and low income families, that those were preserved, that is a line in the sand. I would not have agreed to a deal, which, by the way some in Congress were talking about, of just a two-year extension on the Bush tax cuts and one year of unemployment insurance, but meanwhile all the other provisions of earned income tax credit or other important breaks for middle class families, like the college tax credit, that those had gone away, just because they had Obama's name attached to them instead of Bush's name attached to them.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for, for a hundred years - but because there was a provision in there that they didn't get, that would have affected maybe a couple million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for a hundred million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position, and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves, and sanctimonious about how pure our intensions are and how tough we are. And in the meantime the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out. That can't be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can't be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat.

This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. You know, the New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America - neither does the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they're just trying to figure out how to go about their lives, and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us? And that means because it's a big, diverse country, and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done we're gonna compromise.

This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare started it was a small program, it grew. Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal.

This country was founded on compromise. I couldn't go through the front door of this country's founding. And you know if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn't have a Union.

And so, my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there - what is helping the American people live out of their lives? You know what is giving them more opportunity, what is growing the economy, what is making us more competitive. And at any given juncture there're gonna be times where my preferred option, what I'm absolutely positive is right, I can't get done. And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way, or tack a little bit that way, because I'm keeping my eye on the long term, and the long fight, not my day to day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term?

And I don't think there's a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised. Take a tally, look at what I promised during the campaign. There's not a single thing that I said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I have not gotten it done yet, I'm still trying to do it.

And so, to my Democratic friends, what I'd suggest is, let's make sure that we understand this is a long game, this is not a short game.

Video at both links.

[Added] Full transcript of the press conference here (http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/transcript-of-obamas-remarks-on-tax-cut-deal.php).

operative
12-07-2010, 05:44 PM
Sabato didn't seem to me to say much. He presented the problem (which everyone already knows) and asked some questions. Thus, I am not sure how he's "right," although he's not wrong (except, IMO, on the likelihood of a serious challenger from the left in '12).

It's true that Sabato isn't exactly presenting groundbreaking questions. But I think that what he is diagnosing, while fairly commonly observed, is correct.


More significantly, I don't see how he's "right" if you are reading him to say what you did below. As your own position, fine, although I think more of reflection of your own psyche than the facts, but it's not what Sabato said at all.

True, but I didn't mean to say that Sabato was saying what I was saying--the observations about Obama's history are my own.



Also, the right isn't going along with it and the left isn't interested in triangulation. There were specific circumstances that made the Dems much more open to that in the Clinton years,* it's not a strategy that is somehow ideal for everything.

Personally, I think the better lesson from the Clinton years would have been the shut down, but oh well.

I don't think Boehner is dumb enough to let another shut down happen--he learned from Gingrich's mistakes and unlike Newt, he isn't really a Believer--he's just a politician. Cantor and Ryan would let a shut down happen, but Boehner won't. I think that you're right that the Right isn't particularly enthused about going along with anything, but I don't think you need the Right to be in order to succeed politically--in fact, it can be better if the other side is not, because then you can clearly differentiate yourself from both sides and paint yourself as the pragmatic moderate, which is what Clinton did,.

I agree about the left being disinterested, and actually actively hostile toward the notion of compromise (hence Rather's comment about Obama getting primaried). I really don't know if they'll shut up and go along or raise a stink and contemplate a primary challenge (Feingold). I think the former is far smarter politically, but politicians don't always behave rationally.

I think the more important matter for Obama is that he picked the wrong issue to triangulate on, and the wrong path to go about it. He should be triangulating on offshore drilling, security issues, etc. this one wasn't really a winner for him. I am very glad that he caved though, because I think the result is much better for the country.


*When we all know you would have been saying stuff about Clinton's radicalism and so on. So much of what gets said now about Obama is basically repurposed '90s rhetoric. You just may be too young to realize it or conveniently forgetting.

You may be correct (I wasn't particularly interested in politics for much of the Clinton presidency though, and when I was, I had a fairly conventional center-left mindset).

There's definitely some hypocrisy going on in the right, by some (though not all) who had splenetic reactions against anything Clinton did but now hold him up as an icon of more sensible Dem policies. All I can say is that I think it's pretty clear that Clinton pursued a very different path in his last 6 years than Obama has pursued so far, and that I think Clinton was a much better politician.

operative
12-07-2010, 05:45 PM
TMI

I'm in a garrulous mood, I confess.

operative
12-07-2010, 05:46 PM
Also, I do have to ask, at what point would you say it becomes okay to comment upon someone who makes this sort of consistently determined effort to keep herself in the spotlight (http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2010/12/06/bristol-palin-canardly-keep-up-with-the-disses/)?

Not that I'm asking your permission, mind.

How about when a) they're not a teenager and b) remotely relevant. Sarah Palin's children are neither.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 05:57 PM
How about when a) they're not a teenager and b) remotely relevant. Sarah Palin's children are neither.

I'll grant that Bristol is 20. Other than that, you don't seem to have a point, much less a grasp of the concept of making your subject agree with your verb.

operative
12-07-2010, 06:00 PM
I'll grant that Bristol is 20. Other than that, you don't seem to have a point, much less a grasp of the concept of making your subject agree with your verb.

Grammatical nitpicking is more oft than not a sign of a dearth of relevant arguments to make.

I tend to reserve my attention for people who are remotely relevant. I think people should follow my lead on that. Reality tv show stars are not relevant.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 06:05 PM
I tend to reserve my attention for people who are remotely relevant.

In that case, thank you for responding to every single one of my posts.

stephanie
12-07-2010, 06:49 PM
It's true that Sabato isn't exactly presenting groundbreaking questions. But I think that what he is diagnosing, while fairly commonly observed, is correct.

Maybe it's so common that I'm not seeing it, because I'm honestly not sure what opinion you are agreeing with. I don't see any analysis of note.

True, but I didn't mean to say that Sabato was saying what I was saying--the observations about Obama's history are my own.

Okay. I don't agree, of course.

I don't think Boehner is dumb enough to let another shut down happen--he learned from Gingrich's mistakes and unlike Newt, he isn't really a Believer--he's just a politician.

I think you are probably right. My point about the shut down is that Obama perhaps should have taken more of a lesson from it. Obama/the Congressional Dems seem convinced that if a failure to reach agreement resulted in no extension of the tax cuts that they would be blamed, and given the last 2 years I get that (yes, I know you and I will disagree about the last 2 years), but I don't think that should be a foregone conclusion, as the Clinton handling of the shut down demonstrates.

Of course, Obama would be better off if they actually required filibustering for filibustering, about which I'm still mad (and blame Reid, among others), but so be it.

That said, I actually think the focus on getting the payroll cut and unemployment extension is understandable, and think Clive Crook's argument (in his Atlantic blog) that the tax rate issue is less a concern as there likely will be a revisiting of it is at least worth considering (although I'm not especially convinced).

I don't think you need the Right to be in order to succeed politically--in fact, it can be better if the other side is not, because then you can clearly differentiate yourself from both sides and paint yourself as the pragmatic moderate, which is what Clinton did,.

Clinton didn't do this in his first 2 years or successfully under the specific circumstances here (period between election and new Congress taking power in late '94), so I think the comparison is limited.

I agree about the left being disinterested, and actually actively hostile toward the notion of compromise (hence Rather's comment about Obama getting primaried).

That's not what I said. I don't think the Dems (including the left wing of the party) is inherently anti any compromise. I think they are anti compromise that seems to give up big ticket items without similar concessions by the Republicans and think that Obama starts with the compromising so they lose their negotiating chips. This is seen as an example of that, obviously.

I think the more important matter for Obama is that he picked the wrong issue to triangulate on, and the wrong path to go about it.

He's not triangulating. The circumstances of the situation don't allow for triangulating. Clinton couldn't triangulate here, and I say this as someone who thinks triangulating was a bad long-term strategy.

Wonderment
12-07-2010, 07:42 PM
Of course, Obama would be better off if they actually required filibustering for filibustering, about which I'm still mad (and blame Reid, among others), but so be it.

Why couldn't Obama just say, "I will not sign a bill that extends tax cuts for millionaires." Then the House presents the bill it already passed extending middle class tax cuts, and it goes to the Senate. The Repubs. fake-filibuster, and come Xmas the Dems. can say, "We have passed a bill; we have a Senate majority ready to vote at a moment's notice; the President is ready to sign it, and the only thing in the way is Republican intransigence and love of plutocracy. If middle class tax cuts expire, blame the corrupt Republicans."

Tell me why that's not a win for Obama.

operative
12-07-2010, 07:48 PM
I don't agree, of course.

I don't understand why what I'm saying is even controversial--Obama was surrounded by folks who were almost invariably rigidly on the left, from the time when he was a child--I think his book establishes this--onward. He even wrote that he intentionally surrounded himself with Marxists, structural feminists etc. in college--again, outside the mainstream. I don't see where his time as a community organizer put him around anything other than left wing people, and he had a reliably pretty far left voting record as a state senator. His biography is substantially different than Clinton, who was a governor of a conservative state, who dealt with defeat, and who had to work with the other side and make compromises.

People don't tend to become good compromisers overnight. Rather, if they don't have a good track record, they tend to be pretty bad at it in office. Wilson is the greatest example of this--he was an obstinate jerk as a University Dean, as a governor, and then as a President.


I think you are probably right. My point about the shut down is that Obama perhaps should have taken more of a lesson from it. Obama/the Congressional Dems seem convinced that if a failure to reach agreement resulted in no extension of the tax cuts that they would be blamed, and given the last 2 years I get that (yes, I know you and I will disagree about the last 2 years), but I don't think that should be a foregone conclusion, as the Clinton handling of the shut down demonstrates.

I actually agree that it would've been wiser to play chicken and see if the GOP would blink. Polling suggested that the public was more on the Dems' side on the matter. They could've hit on all the populist notes for a long time--"GOP wouldn't give you a tax cut because they couldn't get one for millionaires!" I think that the GOP had more to lose, and Obama less to gain, on the matter. And I do think the GOP would've blinked.


Of course, Obama would be better off if they actually required filibustering for filibustering, about which I'm still mad (and blame Reid, among others), but so be it.

Yeah, I'm also curious as to why Reid and Obama have been unwilling to force the GOP into an actual filibuster. Perhaps they have some internal polls that suggest that the public would actually be supportive of the GOP--bravely taking a stand or whatever--but I'm not so sure that I believe the logic of that.

It'll be curious to see if the GOP actually forces Dems to filibuster once they regain power in 2012. If they don't, then that'll lend credence to the belief that there is a calculation of political cost in letting the other side filibuster.


I think they are anti compromise that seems to give up big ticket items without similar concessions by the Republicans and think that Obama starts with the compromising so they lose their negotiating chips. This is seen as an example of that, obviously.

What are the compromises that the left would actually go along with??


He's not triangulating. The circumstances of the situation don't allow for triangulating. Clinton couldn't triangulate here, and I say this as someone who thinks triangulating was a bad long-term strategy.

That's curious because I think that it's by far the best strategy for Democrats.

graz
12-07-2010, 08:12 PM
He's not triangulating. The circumstances of the situation don't allow for triangulating.


That's curious because I think that it's by far the best strategy for Democrats.

Please explain triangulate in this context. What is it, how would it work?

operative
12-07-2010, 08:17 PM
Please explain triangulate in this context. What is it, how would it work?

I still see this tax matter as an attempt to triangulate. Check this article
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/07/obama-tax-cut-deal_n_793320.html

He's trying to cast himself as finding the middle ground between the two intransigent sides, endorsing a compromise legislation that makes him appear to have avoided the partisan bickering.

On this issue, I don't think it's a winner, so I'm undermining my prior argument. But on many other issues, particularly ones where the public is opposed to the Dem position, I think it would work for him. But he's basically the equivalent of a 2nd round draft pick trying to captain a team trying to compete for the NBA Finals.

stephanie
12-07-2010, 08:53 PM
Why couldn't Obama just say, "I will not sign a bill that extends tax cuts for millionaires." Then the House presents the bill it already passed extending middle class tax cuts, and it goes to the Senate. The Repubs. fake-filibuster, and come Xmas the Dems. can say, "We have passed a bill; we have a Senate majority ready to vote at a moment's notice; the President is ready to sign it, and the only thing in the way is Republican intransigence and love of plutocracy. If middle class tax cuts expire, blame the corrupt Republicans."

Tell me why that's not a win for Obama.

The bill doesn't get passed, including the cuts that the Dems are in favor of. And nothing else gets done -- the Republicans fake-filibuster the unemployment extensions and (perhaps) the payroll cuts.

Can the Dems sell this as all the Republican's fault? Maybe -- that's what I meant when I said Obama may not have learned from the gov't shut down. It's a lot less clear, though, because they sold out the requirement that there be an actual filibuster, and I have no faith in the voters to get why the Republicans, with their minority, could prevent this.

Apart from the "who gets blamed" question is the issue of whether the tradeoff is worth it.

stephanie
12-07-2010, 09:05 PM
I don't understand why what I'm saying is even controversial

I find this hard to believe, but you've illustrated over and over that you aren't really interested in any other views on this question. To call Obama's environment from college on "rigidly left" (or to portray his grandparents that way) seems crazy to me, and I've been in a variety of similar environments.

In any case, the idea that Obama's problem is that he doesn't know how to compromise is so contrary to what I see as a reasonable take on his administration that I don't think we have anywhere to even begin discussing it. I think you have a view of Obama that is not based in reality, is not open to alternative POV, and in essence that you dislike him and as a result glom on to the most negative and discredited interpretations of him.

I actually agree that it would've been wiser to play chicken and see if the GOP would blink.

Politically, I think this is so and am upset that he didn't fight it. More pragmatically, I don't think the tradeoffs were worth it for the Dems and they were for the Republicans, so the result would be seeing who paid the political cost and not getting legislation that Obama thinks is important. Since I agree with the importance of at least some of the legislation, I'm torn.

Polling suggested that the public was more on the Dems' side on the matter. They could've hit on all the populist notes for a long time--"GOP wouldn't give you a tax cut because they couldn't get one for millionaires!" I think that the GOP had more to lose, and Obama less to gain, on the matter. And I do think the GOP would've blinked.

Agreed on everything but whether the Republicans would have blinked. I would have been enthused if Obama had tried that, though, and am at best unhappy with everyone at this very moment, so I obviously see the political problems with the compromise.

Yeah, I'm also curious as to why Reid and Obama have been unwilling to force the GOP into an actual filibuster. Perhaps they have some internal polls that suggest that the public would actually be supportive of the GOP--bravely taking a stand or whatever--but I'm not so sure that I believe the logic of that.

I am probably more puzzled by this that almost anything else that has gone on. I see no possible reason why the Dems would have allowed this.

That's curious because I think that it's by far the best strategy for Democrats.

graz said what I would have. It just doesn't seem relevant here.

Ocean
12-07-2010, 09:19 PM
I'm pretty upset about the negotiation of the upper income brackets tax cuts. I wouldn't call it for the rich, because $250K quite doesn't make it to "rich" in my opinion. But, nonetheless, I think that Obama should have pushed harder. If indeed it was so inevitable to have to compromise, then he could have done it for 6 months and not two years.

But, what the heck, that's just my opinion. And it looks like there are many thousands like me.

AemJeff
12-07-2010, 09:21 PM
The bill doesn't get passed, including the cuts that the Dems are in favor of. And nothing else gets done -- the Republicans fake-filibuster the unemployment extensions and (perhaps) the payroll cuts.

Can the Dems sell this as all the Republican's fault? Maybe -- that's what I meant when I said Obama may not have learned from the gov't shut down. It's a lot less clear, though, because they sold out the requirement that there be an actual filibuster, and I have no faith in the voters to get why the Republicans, with their minority, could prevent this.

Apart from the "who gets blamed" question is the issue of whether the tradeoff is worth it.

War-game this a little further into the future. Imagine the Republican House introducing a bill to reinstate the Bush tax cuts or something like that six months from now. Maybe they make it retroactive to Jan 1st. What strategy do the Democrats have then? Vote it down? Vote in favor? There's no good option, the Republicans win, and it's a much sweeter victory than the compromise Obama just negotiated.

I hate to admit it, but I don't think that we can make an effective argument that Obama hasn't seized the best strategy available to him right now. It's possible there were better moves leading up to this point than he and the Congress actually played, but given the state of play I don't see a better way forward.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 09:24 PM
...

I can't vouch for the accuracy of this, but just yesterday I read the following (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2010/12/how_to_reform_the_filibuster.php), by Josh Marshall:

How to Reform the Filibuster
Josh Marshall | December 5, 2010, 2:11PM

With the Democrats' Senate Majority now dramatically reduced and the seats up for grabs in 2012 looking good for the Republicans, now is a propitious time to revisit the question of reforming the filibuster since it's much less clear whose minority oxe would be gored. In a sense perhaps it makes no sense for the Dems to entertain reform, given how the Republicans dealt with things in 2006-2010 and given the fact that it's now much more likely for them to get gored. But for the sake of civics if nothing else, let's entertain the question. Because I think it's much less of an all or nothing exercise than most imagine.

Here's the thing that people tend not to realize about the modern filibuster: it places all the onus on the majority and almost literally none on the minority, thus creating a massive incentive for endless filibusters. Let me explain.

How many Senators do you need to get on the floor to break a filibuster? 60.

How many do you need on the floor to sustain one? 1.

This is what people tend not to realize when they ask why the Majority Leader isn't ordering them to get out the cots and make people stay up all night. It's just too easy to sustain a filibuster for that to make any sense.

In the outgoing Congress it would have meant getting all 60 Senators to stay on the floor indefinitely while the GOP only had to make sure one senator was on the floor at any one time to raise an objection to ending debate. Maybe two at any one time if you figure the need for occasional bathroom breaks. And since each party is going to have somewhere on the order of at least 40 senators, taking shifts indefinitely just isn't a problem. And even though people think you've got to sit there reading the phone book or talking forever or whatever else, you don't. You don't have to do anything except sit there and be ready to stand up for 30 seconds and make an objection. So while the majority needs 60 Senators cooling their heels on the floor, the minority can just have one or two sitting there playing Angry Birds on their iPhones.

Here's another part of the equation. Everyone knows you need 60 votes to break a filibuster. But it's not 3/5 of the votes, it's an absolute 60. That's why you'll note that when a filibuster is a broken it's usually by a vote of 60 to 30-something. In other words, the folks in the minority, the folks filibustering, don't even need to show up. I'd like to say they can just dial it in. But actually they don't even need to do that.

These are, to put it mildly, very perverse incentives.

Given what's happened over the last four years, it's probably a bit rich to expect Dems to make a good faith effort to reform or limit the use of the filibuster. Indeed, it's probably unrealistic to expect the minority ever to do so. And frankly I don't even think abolishing it outright is even a good idea. It probably makes sense to have some brakes on simple majority votes on the Senate. But some brakes, not absolute brakes, which is what the Republicans have brought it to now. (And yes, look at the evolution over the last 20 years: it's the Republicans.)

But as you can see, I think it would be fairly easy to preserve the filibuster while also shifting the incentives around in such a way that you'd be more sure the minority felt it was a critically important issue. And maybe something they'd have a hard time sustaining on a permanent basis. If you had to keep 40+ Senators or even some substantial number of Senators on the floor more or less indefinitely to keep the Senate bottled up and preventing a vote, believe me, it would happen far far less than you're seeing it now. And I'm pretty sure you'd see de facto 60 vote rule become a thing of the past.

AemJeff
12-07-2010, 09:26 PM
I'm pretty upset about the negotiation of the upper income brackets tax cuts. I wouldn't call it for the rich, because $250K quite doesn't make it to "rich" in my opinion. But, nonetheless, I think that Obama should have pushed harder. If indeed it was so inevitable to have to compromise, then he could have done it for 6 months and not two years.

But, what the heck, that's just my opinion. And it looks like there are many thousands like me.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit, and I was pretty upset about the way this was played, at first. But I've come around to what I just said to Stephanie (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=191727#poststop) above. I wish they (O. and the Democratic Congress) had played a better game leading us up to this point, but I think Obama probably did negotiate the best outcome available at this time.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 09:37 PM
I haven't seen Obama's presser of this afternoon, but now I'm curious (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2010/12/seminal_moment_1.php#more?ref=fpblg).

Seminal Moment
David Kurtz | December 7, 2010, 3:30PM

Let's be honest with each other here: Presidential press conferences are usually news voids into which a lot of ink and chatter are dumped.

But Obama's press conference this afternoon will be seen as a turning point if not in his Presidency then in how we understand and perceive him and his approach to politics. I say that keenly aware of the press' tendency to see itself at the center of the story and of TV's tendency to view history as a series of moments caught on camera. So I'm having to overcome a lot of my built-in skepticism about over-reading these kinds of pseudo-events.

What we saw and what I think we'll see borne out by subsequent events is Obama revealing in a very public way the choice he has made between the two political personas he has simultaneously inhabited throughout his candidacy and his presidency. He has tried to be both pragmatist and progressive savior. And even when he stopped trying to be the savior after he was elected, he was at a certain level content to let supporters continue to project that persona on to him.

Today, he very clearly and loudly said: that savior persona is not me. I am the pragmatist. And you know what, I don't have a whole lot of patience for the idealists. I share their ideals, but I don't share their approach and I'm not going to get bogged down in recriminations over not living up to some abstract ideal.

I don't think this a change in the fundamental truth of who he is or of what his politics are, but with today's press conference the pretense that he might yet be someone else was finally dropped. Not only was he announcing that this is who I am, but he was also effectively declaring, I am not that other guy. (You can watch the key part of the presser here.)

That's a significant change in his personal narrative and as I say a change I suspect in the public narrative of his presidency going forward.


You can watch the press conference on the White House YouTube channel, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrTKUEfnegE

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 09:43 PM
I've been thinking about this quite a bit, and I was pretty upset about the way this was played, at first. But I've come around to what I just said to Stephanie (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=191727#poststop) above. I wish they (O. and the Democratic Congress) had played a better game leading us up to this point, but I think Obama probably did negotiate the best outcome available at this time.

I basically agree that this was a good compromise. Frankly, I've come to expect so little that I was surprised he got what could be construed as a $900 billion stimulus package. While I would not call tax cuts for the richest people in the country stimulative, the extension in unemployment is not only stimulative, but a moral imperative. And the 2% cut in payroll taxes will help the people most likely to spend the money.

The only concern I have is that by cutting the payroll tax, Republicans will be able to (dishonestly) "show" that payroll taxes are failing to keep up with Social Security expenditures. At a time when there is great pressure to gut the program, I'm afraid this aspect of the compromise will only strengthen the GOP's hand. I don't think there is much the government does that is a greater moral imperative than protecting the indigent elderly from homelessness and starvation. Protecting Social Security should be non-negotiable -- especially given the fact that it's not a source of debt; last I heard the program is self-sustaining until something like 2043, and then can be made solvent forever with a few minor adjustments.

AemJeff
12-07-2010, 09:49 PM
I basically agree that this was a good compromise. Frankly, I've come to expect so little that I was surprised he got what could be construed as a $900 billion stimulus package. While I would not call tax cuts for the richest people in the country stimulative, the extension in unemployment is not only stimulative, but a moral imperative. And the 2% cut in payroll taxes will help the people most likely to spend the money.

The only concern I have is that by cutting the payroll tax, Republicans will be able to (dishonestly) "show" that payroll taxes are failing to keep up with Social Security expenditures. At a time when there is great pressure to gut the program, I'm afraid this aspect of the compromise will only strengthen the GOP's hand. I don't think there is much the government does that is a greater moral imperative than protecting the indigent elderly from homelessness and starvation. Protecting Social Security should be non-negotiable -- especially given the fact that it's not a source of debt; last I heard the program is self-sustaining until something like 2043, and then can be made solvent forever with a few minor adjustments.

I think quite a bit of it stinks, quite frankly - my feeling is that it was the only politically effective choice available for the Democrats. I hope this gets solved in 2012 by a resurgent Democratic party. I don't have huge confidence in that outcome, but I think the Republicans have a pretty fair chance of turning out to have overreached hugely over the next two years.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 09:57 PM
I think quite a bit of it stinks, quite frankly - my feeling is that it was the only politically effective choice available for the Democrats. I hope this gets solved in 2012 by a resurgent Democratic party. I don't have huge confidence in that outcome, but I think the Republicans have a pretty fair chance of turning out to have overreached hugely over the next two years.

I hope you're right.

I just read this rather alarming take (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/one-more-nail-in-social-security-coffin.html) on the agreement.

Social Security expert Nancy Altman:

The innocent-sounding payroll tax holiday, on the other hand, will lead inexorably to killing Social Security.

[...]

I find it unfathomable that a more conservative Congress, in two years, in an election year, will increase the payroll tax by 2 percent on the very first dollar, and every other dollar up to the cap, earned by virtually every single worker in the country. Consequently, I think we have to assume that the payroll tax holiday will be extended beyond the two years the president is proposing and quite likely could become permanent.

That means that the federal government will have to continue to transfer $120 billion to the Social Security trust funds each and every year even as it has to transfer more and more interest payments as the trust funds continue to grow and as interest rates return to more normal levels.


Dibgy:

It's a landmine. The Republicans are going to run on the president's stated desire to raise taxes in 2012 --- on everyone, not just millionaires. They are going to run on the fact that he's going to "raise" the payroll tax as well. And subsequently it won't be raised.

Meanwhile, they will argue that Social Security is now showing a much larger shortfall and they will use it to demand cuts in the program.


Oh well. Maybe it's time to become interested in sports again.

Wonderment
12-07-2010, 10:03 PM
I'm pretty upset about the negotiation of the upper income brackets tax cuts. I wouldn't call it for the rich, because $250K quite doesn't make it to "rich" in my opinion.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had a proposal on the table to (http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/1110/Schumer_Raise_the_tax_cut_limit_to_1_million.html) raise the $250k to 1 million.

The WH, apparently, greeted that idea with silence.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 10:09 PM
http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/8325/tolescompromise.png

Tom Toles' excellent blog can be bookmarked here (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/tomtoles/) -- so you can read it every day.

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 10:13 PM
Protecting Social Security should be non-negotiable -- especially given the fact that it's not a source of debt; last I heard the program is self-sustaining until something like 2043, and then can be made solvent forever with a few minor adjustments.

What exactly are these minor adjustments?

Ocean
12-07-2010, 10:13 PM
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had a proposal on the table to (http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/1110/Schumer_Raise_the_tax_cut_limit_to_1_million.html) raise the $250k to 1 million.

The WH, apparently, greeted that idea with silence.

Yes, I know about that proposal. But, that's exactly the problem. The proposal to maintain lower taxes for people with income below $1 million, would benefit lower to upper middle class. But I don't think that's what the Republicans were interested in. They really want to cut taxes for the highest income. Anyway, too late now.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 10:14 PM
Here's the Ezra Klein post that Toles linked to:

— The Bush tax cuts in one chart (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/the_bush_tax_cuts_in_one_chart.html)

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 10:19 PM
What exactly are these minor adjustments?

There are a variety of suggestions. The point is that the shortfall isn't very significant -- or at least it wasn't before the payroll tax cut -- and is way off in the future. A modest shortfall decades in the future can be easily addressed in any number of ways.

The way favored by Republicans is to raise the retirement age. Because, you know, construction workers should not be allowed to retire until they are 70.

Personally, I would favor raising the cap on the payroll tax by a few thousand dollars, or eliminating payments to people with a net worth greater than, say, five million dollars.

Wonderment
12-07-2010, 10:29 PM
I hate to admit it, but I don't think that we can make an effective argument that Obama hasn't seized the best strategy available to him right now.

So the best he could have done with majorities in both House of Rep. and Senate was to get completely played by the minority party into caving on one of his foremost campaign promises and principles (End the Bush tax cuts for the rich!), favoring the plutocrats, adding $900,000,000 to the Republican deficit so that next month the Republicans can transmogrify themselves back into deficit hawks, forcing the Dems. to back down on every penny that doesn't go to the Pentagon?

If that's the best strategy available with double majorities, I'd hate to see the worst, and I'll hate to see the optimum over the next two years when the House majority is long gone.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 10:35 PM
I don't know if this kind of resolve will help Obama win back the base (are we agreed he actually lost it?), but I think this is pretty effective rhetoric:

http://img560.imageshack.us/img560/8141/obamapresser.png (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca0n_4oK70Q&feature=player_embedded)

(Watch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca0n_4oK70Q&feature=player_embedded))

AemJeff
12-07-2010, 10:39 PM
So the best he could have done with majorities in both House of Rep. and Senate was to get completely played by the minority party into caving on one of his foremost campaign promises and principles (End the Bush tax cuts for the rich!), favoring the plutocrats, adding $900,000,000 to the Republican deficit so that next month the Republicans can transmogrify themselves back into deficit hawks, forcing the Dems. to back down on every penny that doesn't go to the Pentagon?

If that's the best strategy available with double majorities, I'd hate to see the worst, and I'll hate to see the optimum over the next two years when the House majority is long gone.

What good is a Senate majority when all that's needed is forty Republican votes (or one Republican to filibuster?) to stop anything they damned well please? The choice was between different ways to lose, and this was a better option than the alternatives.

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 10:41 PM
There are a variety of suggestions. The point is that the shortfall isn't very significant -- or at least it wasn't before the payroll tax cut -- and is way off in the future. A modest shortfall decades in the future can be easily addressed in any number of ways.

The way favored by Republicans is to raise the retirement age. Because, you know, construction workers should not be allowed to retire until they are 70.

Personally, I would favor raising the cap on the payroll tax by a few thousand dollars, or eliminating payments to people with a net worth greater than, say, five million dollars.

The shortfall isn't really that modest. About 25-30 years down the road, Social Security is only going to be able to pay out 75% of benefits. That sounds like a lot! Except, that 25% it can't pay out is a *lot* of money to a *lot* of people, and is not insignificant. You keep referring vaguely to ways we can address this down the road without actually laying out what those ways are. Social Security is a thorny issue for a reason; there is not a ton of obvious low hanging fruit.

By the way, the sarcasm cuts both ways: Because, you know, when Social Security was first implemented, the system was constructed with people consistently living into their late 70's in mind.

Wonderment
12-07-2010, 10:48 PM
The choice was between different ways to lose, and this was a better option than the alternatives.

Time will tell. My view: A) bad for the country; B) bad for Obama's re-election prospects; C) Good for the Republican wave, inspiring them to ever greater folly.

I suppose that 2012 will hinge on whether Obama can make an electoral case for an improved economy or not, but the millionaire tax cut was a surrender on a major principle that -- everything else being equal -- bodes ill for his future.

Ocean
12-07-2010, 10:56 PM
I agree with his argument as it applied to health care reform. However, this argument isn't enough for the tax cuts. We all agree about drawing some lines. This time his line was too far from the lines drawn by his base.

What does that translate into, in practice? Nothing much. Just disappointment and perhaps less of an automatic vote of support. Come election day 2012, he's still going to be closer to his base than any Republican candidate. That's why this political moves are possible. However, if the base gets really disappointed they won't vote at all. And that would be a big loss.

We have two more years to go. We'll see.

Ocean
12-07-2010, 10:57 PM
Time will tell. My view: A) bad for the country; B) bad for Obama's re-election prospects; C) Good for the Republican wave, inspiring them to ever greater folly.

I suppose that 2012 will hinge on whether Obama can make an electoral case for an improved economy or not, but the millionaire tax cut was a surrender on a major principle that -- everything else being equal -- bodes ill for his future.

I have to agree with that. Sadly.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 11:08 PM
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had a proposal on the table to (http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/1110/Schumer_Raise_the_tax_cut_limit_to_1_million.html) raise the $250k to 1 million.

The WH, apparently, greeted that idea with silence.

Never understood why the White House didn't jump on that one from the time I first heard about it. Seems like a self-made message -- "We want to keep the tax cuts for everyone except millionaires. But the Republicans won't even go along with that."

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 11:12 PM
Never understood why the White House didn't jump on that one from the time I first heard about it. Seems like a self-made message -- "We want to keep the tax cuts for everyone except millionaires. But the Republicans won't even go along with that."

I read somewhere (now I can't remember where) that part of the resistance to that plan was that the White House wanted to strictly adhere to the campaign promise of 250k. Never made much sense to me either, since breaking that promise would raise taxes for less people, and the White House just ended up breaking the campaign promise on taxes anyways. And yeah, the millionaire thing has a nice ring to it.

Wonderment
12-07-2010, 11:18 PM
Never understood why the White House didn't jump on that one from the time I first heard about it. Seems like a self-made message -- "We want to keep the tax cuts for everyone except millionaires. But the Republicans won't even go along with that."

Yep.

rcocean
12-07-2010, 11:19 PM
So the best he could have done with majorities in both House of Rep. and Senate was to get completely played by the minority party into caving on one of his foremost campaign promises and principles (End the Bush tax cuts for the rich!), favoring the plutocrats, adding $900,000,000 to the Republican deficit so that next month the Republicans can transmogrify themselves back into deficit hawks, forcing the Dems. to back down on every penny that doesn't go to the Pentagon?

If that's the best strategy available with double majorities, I'd hate to see the worst, and I'll hate to see the optimum over the next two years when the House majority is long gone.

Haha, exactly. Its funny seeing liberals making the same excuses for Obama that the Bush-bots did for Bush. "He had to do it" or "its part of his clever plan" or "just wait, it'll all turn out OK", or "you need to grow-up and recognize political reality" or "its support him or help those evil (insert name of other party).

Obama's sellout is really inexplicable to me. He had the perfect chance to pick up working class votes by standing up against whining, greedy, rich. Honestly, does he really think any Reagan Democrat will vote for him now because he wants to cut the estate tax for millionaires or keep the capital gains tax at 15%?

Of course, this is simply in line with his support for TARP, his appointment of Goldman Sachs execs to the Treasury, his support for job killing trade deals with Korea (Labor unions who's dat?), his keeping Gates on at Defense, his appointment of Kagan, and his continuing the Bush policy in Iran and Afghanistan.

But will it hurt him in 2012? Of course not. The same liberals/lefties that condemn this, will vote for him no matter what. Just like the Bush Bots. Does anyone believe AA won't vote him at a 90 percent rate? Does anything think mindless partisans like BJ O'Keefe or AemJeff won't vote for him as long as he supports Evolution and hates Pat Robertson?

The left has no where to go. All they can do is complain and babble about how at least Obama isn't as bad as Palin.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 11:21 PM
Heh: "... AFTER the election, when the GOP caravan rolled in, deficits would disappear as an operative concern."

As they (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lenHYXtiqoI) sang, "People, get ready ..."

http://wonkette.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/palin100front.jpg (http://wonkette.com/431781/fed-prints-110-biliion-worth-of-screwy-hundred-dollar-bills)

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 11:24 PM
Haha, exactly. Its funny seeing liberals making the same excuses for Obama that the Bush-bots did for Bush. "He had to do it" or "its part of his clever plan" or "just wait, it'll all turn out OK", or "you need to grow-up and recognize political reality" or "its support him or help those evil (insert name of other party).

Obama's sellout is really inexplicable to me. He had the perfect chance to pick up working class votes by standing up against whining, greedy, rich. Honestly, does he really think any Reagan Democrat will vote for him now because he wants to cut the estate tax for millionaires or keep the capital gains tax at 15%?

Of course, this is simply in line with his support for TARP, his appointment of Goldman Sachs execs to the Treasury, his support for job killing trade deals with Korea (Labor unions who's dat?), his keeping Gates on at Defense, his appointment of Kagan, and his continuing the Bush policy in Iran and Afghanistan.

But will it hurt him in 2012? Of course not. The same liberals/lefties that condemn this, will vote for him no matter what. Just like the Bush Bots. Does anyone believe AA won't vote him at a 90 percent rate? Does anything think mindless partisans like BJ O'Keefe or AemJeff won't vote for him as long as he supports Evolution and hates Pat Robertson?

The left has no where to go. All they can do is complain and babble about how at least Obama isn't as bad as Palin.

I don't get your "real conservative" shtick. You play that role around here, and then make posts like this where you oppose lower taxes, free trade, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm confused. Minus the taxes part, aren't you basically Pat Buchanan? The same Pat Buchanan who has basically been ignored by intellectual conservatism for almost a decade now, for the record.

bjkeefe
12-07-2010, 11:24 PM
... babble about how at least Obama isn't as bad as Palin.

You'll have to explain to us how that's "babble."

AemJeff
12-07-2010, 11:30 PM
Haha, exactly. Its funny seeing liberals making the same excuses for Obama that the Bush-bots did for Bush. "He had to do it" or "its part of his clever plan" or "just wait, it'll all turn out OK", or "you need to grow-up and recognize political reality" or "its support him or help those evil (insert name of other party).

Obama's sellout is really inexplicable to me. He had the perfect chance to pick up working class votes by standing up against whining, greedy, rich. Honestly, does he really think any Reagan Democrat will vote for him now because he wants to cut the estate tax for millionaires or keep the capital gains tax at 15%?

Of course, this is simply in line with his support for TARP, his appointment of Goldman Sachs execs to the Treasury, his support for job killing trade deals with Korea (Labor unions who's dat?), his keeping Gates on at Defense, his appointment of Kagan, and his continuing the Bush policy in Iran and Afghanistan.

But will it hurt him in 2012? Of course not. The same liberals/lefties that condemn this, will vote for him no matter what. Just like the Bush Bots. Does anyone believe AA won't vote him at a 90 percent rate? Does anything think mindless partisans like BJ O'Keefe or AemJeff won't vote for him as long as he supports Evolution and hates Pat Robertson?

The left has no where to go. All they can do is complain and babble about how at least Obama isn't as bad as Palin.

Really? "The Left" is making excuses for Obama? How many people besides (mindless partisan) me, on this side, have been anything but hostile to this? And, as a practical matter, I'm plenty hostile - it's awful policy. My point was about the pragmatic politics involved here.

btw, making dumb jabs about evolution (so sorry modern science is too dogmatic for a sophisticate such as yourself) and weird irrelevancies like Pat Robertson(?!) really, truly doesn't help you to make a point.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 11:31 PM
The same Pat Buchanan who has basically been ignored by intellectual conservatism for almost a decade now, for the record.

LOL!

Almost a decade!

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 11:33 PM
LOL!

Almost a decade!

If you're implying that it's been longer...you very well may be right! Perhaps I shouldn't have added a timeline but my point was basically: no one serious gives a shit what Pat Buchanan thinks.

AemJeff
12-07-2010, 11:35 PM
I don't get your "real conservative" shtick. You play that role around here, and then make posts like this where you oppose lower taxes, free trade, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm confused. Minus the taxes part, aren't you basically Pat Buchanan? The same Pat Buchanan who has basically been ignored by intellectual conservatism for almost a decade now, for the record.

rc's intellectual incoherence aside, Pat Buchanan makes for an interesting paradigm, given his (rc's) predilections regarding race theorists such as Steve Sailer and R. S. McCain.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 11:37 PM
If you're implying that it's been longer...you very well may be right! Perhaps I shouldn't have added a timeline but my point was basically: no one serious gives a shit what Pat Buchanan thinks.

I hear this formulation all the time: "No one serious." "No one intelligent." Etc.

How many serious people are there in the country? What does it matter what "serious" people think if there are 5 unserious people for every serious one? I might say no one serious listens to Rush Limbaugh, but there are millions and millions of people who listen to him, and they vote. Rush has influence. It may be influence among non-serious people, but we lose elections to non-serious people all the time.

Personally, I think Buchanan remains one of the most influential conservatives in the country. Not in the top 25 or 50 or even maybe 100, but he's a very prominent voice on the right.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 11:44 PM
I agree with his argument as it applied to health care reform. However, this argument isn't enough for the tax cuts. We all agree about drawing some lines. This time his line was too far from the lines drawn by his base.

What does that translate into, in practice? Nothing much. Just disappointment and perhaps less of an automatic vote of support. Come election day 2012, he's still going to be closer to his base than any Republican candidate. That's why this political moves are possible. However, if the base gets really disappointed they won't vote at all. And that would be a big loss.

We have two more years to go. We'll see.

I hear what you are saying. I honestly don't know what to think. When I read the critics, they convince me the compromise was a mistake. Then when I read the supporters, they convince me it was wise.

I just hope the economy turns around. A lot of people seem to believe economic recovery is just a given, that it's just going to magically take care of itself and happen. But economies can languish for years, even decades. It's my hope that $900 in (sub-optimal) stimulus will help bring about a more rapid recovery. A 10% unemployment rate (or much higher if you count the long term unemployed) has a devastating impact on the lives of many millions of people.

And purely from a political point of view, the single most important factor in deciding Obama's reelection will be the state of the economy. Many on the left may hate Obama for not supplying them with an unlimited supply of cake, cookies, candy, and pie, but he's the firewall between us and the nightmare scenario of a teabagger president and a teabagger Congress. We're right on the brink. We're hanging on by our fingernails. One more Alito on the Supreme Court, and we're all cooked.

Or at least that's how I feel. I might be wrong.

TwinSwords
12-07-2010, 11:55 PM
Haha

Yikes. That gave me chills.

chiwhisoxx
12-07-2010, 11:56 PM
rc's intellectual incoherence aside, Pat Buchanan makes for an interesting paradigm, given his (rc's) predilections regarding race theorists such as Steve Sailer and R. S. McCain.

Pray tell, you don't happen to have strong opinions on Mr. Sailer or McCain, do you?

:)

cragger
12-08-2010, 12:29 AM
If I sit back and look at the Obama presidency and try to identify core principles for which he, and of course the Democrats in congress, will stand and fight, or significant accomplishments that address base problems and move the nation or world forward toward a better future, I can't identify just what an Obama base might be. Or a Democratic base. Both can claim with justification that the alternative party and candidates are even worse, but that isn't much of an argument to convince and motivate anyone to get excited about these folks. Which is a hell of a pathetic performance by a party holding the White House and large majorities in both congressional houses given the horrorshow of the previous administration and Republican congress for contrast and motivation.

I suspect you are right politically speaking that electoral success for Obama at least, though it isn't clear how it would play for the mixed-party congress, is likely to be strongly influenced by how the economy is doing come next election. Excessive faith in stimulative effects seems to rely on the faith that there are no underlying fundamental realities in the changing economic times and the shifting fortunes of the US and, especially for political matters, the fading US middle class. That seems a mighty sad and leaky vessel to place much faith in. So here we are, Democrats hoping that if we all wave fans toward the sails the boat will somehow climb up from wallowing in the sea and spring forward, and Republicans determined to drill holes in the bottom to let the water out.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 12:40 AM
[...] Which is a hell of a pathetic performance by a party holding the White House and large majorities in both congressional houses given the horrorshow of the previous administration and Republican congress for contrast and motivation.

That "large majorities" part is not quite fair, given the realities of how the Senate works. You're also not accounting for the big-tent aspect of the Democratic Party -- lots of fairly conservative people in both houses have (D) at the end of their name, but that doesn't mean all (D)s march in lockstep.

Some more perspectives on how Obama is not actually so horrible from a liberal/progressive point of view here:

From yesterday: a good post by Scott Lemieux (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2010/12/obamas-political-skills-and-how-they-matter) over at LGM, with a lot of links worth clicking, especially the one to Matt Yglesias (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/12/the-discontent-baseline/).

From today, via StrangeAppar8us at Rumproast (http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/obama_calls_out_whining_liberal_purists_on_live_tv/): two (http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/12/obama-goes-medieval-left) by (http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/11/democrats-and-liberalism) Kevin Drum, and an angry one by John Cole (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/12/07/not-the-upper-east-side/).

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 12:49 AM
That "large majorities" part is not quite fair, given the realities of how the Senate works. You're also not accounting for the big-tent aspect of the Democratic Party -- lots of fairly conservative people in both houses have (D) at the end of their name, but that doesn't mean all (D)s march in lockstep.

Some more perspectives on how Obama is not actually so horrible from a liberal/progressive point of view here:

From yesterday: a good post by Scott Lemieux (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2010/12/obamas-political-skills-and-how-they-matter) over at LGM, with a lot of links worth clicking, especially the one to Matt Yglesias (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/12/the-discontent-baseline/).

From today, via StrangeAppar8us at Rumproast (http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/obama_calls_out_whining_liberal_purists_on_live_tv/): two (http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/12/obama-goes-medieval-left) by (http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/11/democrats-and-liberalism) Kevin Drum, and an angry one by John Cole (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/12/07/not-the-upper-east-side/).

Question for you: Do you buy the Cole idea that blacks are actually going to abandon Obama in significant numbers? Also, I scrolled up a bit...John Cole plays World of Warcraft!?!?!

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 12:59 AM
Pray tell, you don't happen to have strong opinions on Mr. Sailer or McCain, do you?

:)

Speak of the devil. One of them, anyway. This just in (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2010/12/robert-stacy-mccain-will-determine-which-women-are-worthy-of-legal-protection):

Robert Stacy McCain Will Determine Which Women Are Worthy of Legal Protection

<strike>Shorter</strike> Verbatim Robert Stacy “Emmett Till had it coming (http://www.eschatonblog.com/2003/01/eschaton-fair-and-balanced.html)” McCain: “The problem here is not some theoretical abstraction about the nature of consent. No, the much larger problem apparent in this situation is that Swedish leftist women are atrocious sluts.” [His emphasis.]

No direct link, but via (http://whiskeyfire.typepad.com/whiskey_fire/2010/12/raise-my-hand-speak-the-truth.html). This post (http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/12/06/some-thoughts-on-sex-by-surprise/) is rather more worthy of your time.

Both are, actually.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 01:14 AM
Question for you: Do you buy the Cole idea that blacks are actually going to abandon Obama in significant numbers?

Probably not, in terms of voting for the Republican. Quite possibly so, in terms of not turning out on Election Day.

When I was waiting in line to vote on 4 Nov 2008, I was next to a group of about a half a dozen black guys, all my age or older. "First time voting?" one asked. "Yup." "Me, too." "Me, too." "Me, too." ... Right on down the line. I'm not sure how much I'd want to bet on all six of those guys showing up again in 2012.

On the other hand, the GOP and conservative media show no let-up in attempting to dog-whistle to their base about Obama's non-American Otherness, not to mention all of the other stuff Cole lists in his post, so it could be that turnout will be nearly as high just because of anger at that sort of stuff, and perhaps a "we got your back" feeling.

So, like I say, possible problem there, yeah, but I don't have as much of a doomed sense as Cole does.

Also, I scrolled up a bit...John Cole plays World of Warcraft!?!?!

He might. He's frequently going on about one game or another. I don't read those posts, so I can't confirm WoW for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 01:18 AM
Some more perspectives on how Obama is not actually so horrible from a liberal/progressive point of view here:

From yesterday: a good post by Scott Lemieux (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2010/12/obamas-political-skills-and-how-they-matter) over at LGM, with a lot of links worth clicking, especially the one to Matt Yglesias (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/12/the-discontent-baseline/).

From today, via StrangeAppar8us at Rumproast (http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/obama_calls_out_whining_liberal_purists_on_live_tv/): two (http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/12/obama-goes-medieval-left) by (http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/11/democrats-and-liberalism) Kevin Drum, and an angry one by John Cole (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/12/07/not-the-upper-east-side/).

Here's a centrist take from Jill Lawrence at Politics Daily: "Tax-Cut Deal: If It's Good for Regular Americans, Isn't That Good Enough for Now? (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/12/07/tax-cut-deal-if-its-good-for-regular-americans-isnt-that-goo/)"

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 01:19 AM
Probably not, in terms of voting for the Republican. Quite possibly so, in terms of not turning out on Election Day.

When I was waiting in line to vote on 4 Nov 2008, I was next to a group of about a half a dozen black guys, all my age or older. "First time voting?" one asked. "Yup." "Me, too." "Me, too." "Me, too." ... Right on down the line. I'm not sure how much I'd want to bet on all six of those guys showing up again in 2012.

On the other hand, the GOP and conservative media show no let-up in attempting to dog-whistle to their base about Obama's non-American Otherness, not to mention all of the other stuff Cole lists in his post, so it could be that turnout will be nearly as high just because of anger at that sort of stuff, and perhaps a "we got your back" feeling.

So, like I say, possible problem there, yeah, but I don't have as much of a doomed sense as Cole does.



He might. He's frequently going on about one game or another. I don't read those posts, so I can't confirm WoW for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Well, then I'd lean more towards pessimism (from your perspective). If the case for optimism is that low information voters who probably just voted for the first time are consuming a lot of political media, and perceiving lots of it as dog whistle racism, then I think liberals may be in trouble with the black vote. Obviously these kind of voters just don't consume that much media, and I'd say the the left wing blogosphere interprets more dog whistle racism from media than the average person does, whatever their race. I don't doubt that there will still be a significant "we got your back" mentality amongst African Americans, I just don't think it'll come from where you think it will come from.

nikkibong
12-08-2010, 01:21 AM
Well, then I'd lean more towards pessimism (from your perspective). If the case for optimism is that low information voters who probably just voted for the first time are consuming a lot of political media, and perceiving lots of it as dog whistle racism, then I think liberals may be in trouble with the black vote. Obviously these kind of voters just don't consume that much media, and I'd say the the left wing blogosphere interprets more dog whistle racism from media than the average person does, whatever their race.

well, what states would obama lose as a result of moderately dampened black turnout? he didn't win mississippi, georgia et al. with huge black turnout in the first place, and he would still be a lock in new york, california, and most of the upper midwest (i think.) was black turnout really the deciding factor in OH and FL? (i suspect it was in indiana and north carolina, but he doesn't need those states to be re-elected.)

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 01:27 AM
well, what states would obama lose as a result of moderately dampened black turnout? he didn't win mississippi, georgia et al. with huge black turnout in the first place, and he would still be a lock in new york, california, and most of the upper midwest (i think.) was black turnout really the deciding factor in OH and FL? (i suspect it was in indiana and north carolina, but he doesn't need those states to be re-elected.)

This is a very good point; it's exceedingly unlikely that black turnout swings the 2012 election. Optimism and pessimism wasn't a good way to frame it, I just didn't buy the "black people rally around Obama because of racist media" idea.

Wonderment
12-08-2010, 01:45 AM
He's an old School anti-interventionist. We wouldn't have gone into Iraq on his watch, and he opposed the Iraq debacle every step of the way as a journalist.

Of course he's Old School (i.e. Tyrannosaurus) on a whole range of social issues, as well as the hideously indefensible (torture), but anti-Iraq War Republicans deserve a lot of praise in my book.

Wonderment
12-08-2010, 01:56 AM
Probably not, in terms of voting for the Republican. Quite possibly so, in terms of not turning out on Election Day.

Obama won, I'd venture to say, thanks to a huge wave of anti-Bush/Cheneyism and immense enthusiasm for Change/Youth/Hope. He also won against a terrible R presidential candidate and a worse R-VP candidate, both of whom screwed up every step of the way.

All that will have evaporated in 2012. He will have to win on the economy and/or the possibility that Repubs. will present another catastrophic ticket.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 02:01 AM
... I just didn't buy the "black people rally around Obama because of racist media" idea.

You really ought to stop misrepresenting what I'm saying if you want me to take you seriously.

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 02:04 AM
You really ought to stop misrepresenting what I'm saying if you want me to take you seriously.

Ok, I oversimplified it, but I assume Nikki read your post. "Black people get angry because the right wing media uses dog whistle racism to incite the base, thus making them want to defend Obama." Better?

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 02:07 AM
Well, then I'd lean more towards pessimism (from your perspective). If the case for optimism is that low information voters who probably just voted for the first time are consuming a lot of political media, and perceiving lots of it as dog whistle racism, then I think liberals may be in trouble with the black vote. Obviously these kind of voters just don't consume that much media, ...

I don't know -- and I seriously doubt you do, either -- how many people who turned out for the first time in 2008 are "low information voters" who "don't consume that much media," and how many of them, prior to 2008, were actually reasonably well-informed but just saw no difference between the choices they'd previously had.

... and I'd say the the left wing blogosphere interprets more dog whistle racism from media than the average person does, whatever their race.

(a) Of course you would, and (b) I did not say "the media." I said (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=191786&highlight=conservative+media#post191786) conservative media. I probably should have been less polite and more honest and said the right-wing noise machine.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 02:07 AM
Ok, I oversimplified it, but I assume Nikki read your post. "Black people get angry because the right wing media uses dog whistle racism to incite the base, thus making them want to defend Obama." Better?

Yes. Thank you.

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 02:16 AM
I don't know -- and I seriously doubt you do, either -- how many people who turned out for the first time in 2008 are "low information voters" who "don't consume that much media," and how many of them, prior to 2008, were actually reasonably well-informed but just saw no difference between the choices they'd previously had.



(a) Of course you would, and (b) I did not say "the media." I said (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=191786&highlight=conservative+media#post191786) conservative media. I probably should have been less polite and more honest and said the right-wing noise machine.

You're right, I have no idea about those voting demographics in 08. I know not voting tends to be correlated with being a lower information person in general, but that's obviously just a correlation, and I oversimplified it. People are idiosyncratic, and vote for lots of reasons, but I have a hard time imagining people voting because they're really outraged at conservative media. Aren't people who spend a lot of time huffing and puffing about Rush Limbaugh probably going to vote (for Democrats) anyways? I'm sure there are people out there who share your view of the conservative media since 08, and probably some of them are indepdentish people who don't typically vote, and will be galvanized for 12. But I can't really imagine that being a sizable portion of the population. 00 and 04 certainly taught us that every bit matters, but still...

By the way: I'm not saying you think there's a huge voting bloc here, just noting my own skepticism.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 02:26 AM
well, what states would obama lose as a result of moderately dampened black turnout? he didn't win mississippi, georgia et al. with huge black turnout in the first place, and he would still be a lock in new york, california, and most of the upper midwest (i think.) was black turnout really the deciding factor in OH and FL? (i suspect it was in indiana and north carolina, but he doesn't need those states to be re-elected.)

It could be (and could have been, in 2008) a large contributing factor in the last four states you list. That's 73 electoral votes right there. Perhaps add in Virginia, perhaps add in New Jersey. That's another 30. Total 103. If they all flipped (probably not likely, but just to finish the arithmetic), that'd change 2008's win of 365-173 to a 262-276 loss.

Mississippi and Georgia aren't the same. Georgia was close (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008#Close_st ates.2Fdistricts), almost as close as NC, IN, OH, and FL: McCain only won it by about 5%. That meant at minimum that it wasn't a sure thing for the GOP, which meant they had to spend more resources there to win. You might be able to say similar things about, say, Missouri.

Stepping back a bit to look at national numbers, here are some excerpts from a 2009 Pew report (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1209/racial-ethnic-voters-presidential-election):

The electorate in last year's presidential election was the most racially and ethnically diverse in U.S. history, with nearly one-in-four votes cast by non-whites, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center.1 The nation's three biggest minority groups -- blacks, Hispanics and Asians -- each accounted for unprecedented shares of the presidential vote in 2008.

[...]

The unprecedented diversity of the electorate last year was driven by increases both in the number and in the turnout rates of minority eligible voters.

The levels of participation by black, Hispanic and Asian eligible voters all increased from 2004 to 2008, reducing the voter participation gap between themselves and white eligible voters. This was particularly true for black eligible voters. Their voter turnout rate increased 4.9 percentage points, from 60.3% in 2004 to 65.3% in 2008, nearly matching the voter turnout rate of white eligible voters (66.1%). [...]

[...]

Much of the surge in black voter participation in 2008 was driven by increased participation among black women and younger voters. The voter turnout rate among eligible black female voters increased 5.1 percentage points, from 63.7% in 2004 to 68.8% in 2008. Overall, among all racial, ethnic and gender groups, black women had the highest voter turnout rate in November's election -- a first.

Blacks ages 18 to 29 increased their voter turnout rate by 8.7 percentage points, from 49.5% in 2004 to 58.2% in 2008 ...

So, it'd be a mistake for the Dems to take matters completely for granted, concerning black voters.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 02:33 AM
You're right, I have no idea about those voting demographics in 08. I know not voting tends to be correlated with being a lower information person in general, but that's obviously just a correlation, and I oversimplified it. People are idiosyncratic, and vote for lots of reasons, but I have a hard time imagining people voting because they're really outraged at conservative media. Aren't people who spend a lot of time huffing and puffing about Rush Limbaugh probably going to vote (for Democrats) anyways? I'm sure there are people out there who share your view of the conservative media since 08, and probably some of them are indepdentish people who don't typically vote, and will be galvanized for 12. But I can't really imagine that being a sizable portion of the population. 00 and 04 certainly taught us that every bit matters, but still...

By the way: I'm not saying you think there's a huge voting bloc here, just noting my own skepticism.

The sort of black voter I have in mind isn't necessarily "outraged at conservative media" in the same exact way I am, but if you review the list of items John Cole (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/12/07/not-the-upper-east-side/) mentioned, I would hesitate to say that a more broad-base, multi-factor anger would be as low as you might think:

They’re being blamed for everything (Acorn, the housing crisis, voter fraud- hell, the day after Prop 8 failed people rushed to blame black people), they are treated to a clear double standard in Congress (Charlie Rangel humiliated for what the panel concluded were small mistakes and not designed to benefit him while DeLay is a felon and no one blinks, Vitter and Ensign and hundreds of others go unpunished. And now they are after Waters. There is a reason the CBC wants to get rid of the ethics panel.), they’re watching their party elites savage the first black President when they have been the backbone for the Democrats for decades, and they are watching a President be submitted to racist smear campaigns by folks outside the party that make any and all of the bullshit the Clintons went through look like small potatoes, and NO ONE is raising any hell in defense of the President. It’s all go along to get along. The only congressman who called the Republicans out was defeated. The rest just sit there and whisper behind the scenes about how Obama won’t tell them what he wants. All of this while the AA community is the hardest hit by recession.

I’m telling you, the black community is noticing this shit even if you all aren’t. Read the damned comments here and see what people are saying.

I can't quantify the anger/motivation from all of this, but I think it'd be a mistake to be sure it is and/or will stay insignificant.

And then, to repeat what I said earlier, I don't know how much translates into not voting and how much translates into reinforcing motivation to vote.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 03:24 AM
Obama wants to triangulate now to save his hide but he has no history of actually doing so--he's been a left winger in left wing environments his whole life, ...

Why no one (except other wingnuts) takes the operative seriously.

On a related note, from Pareene's Tuesday link dump (http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/12/07/tuesday_link_dump/index.html):

Rich Lowry explains that Barack Obama's extended rant against liberals is yet more proof that Barack Obama is a leftist. (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/254739/get-man-teleprompter-rich-lowry) Tonight, temperatures in the low 30s across the New York area are expected to be yet more proof that Barack Obama is a leftist.

Coincidence???

operative
12-08-2010, 10:08 AM
Obama won, I'd venture to say, thanks to a huge wave of anti-Bush/Cheneyism and immense enthusiasm for Change/Youth/Hope. He also won against a terrible R presidential candidate and a worse R-VP candidate, both of whom screwed up every step of the way.

All that will have evaporated in 2012. He will have to win on the economy and/or the possibility that Repubs. will present another catastrophic ticket.

Which, the possibility of Palin aside, isn't too likely. The GOP has a better crop of theoretical 2016 candidates (Haley, Rubio, and likely Jindal and Christie), but Pawlenty is a guaranteed non-catastrophe, as is Mitch Daniels. I think all the GOP will have to do is run a competent (even if mildly boring and/or very short) candidate. There is virtually no conceivable way that unemployment will be at or beneath what it was when Obama took office; it will likely not be beneath 8%. That's a reelection killer.

In related news, House Democrats are angry:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46111.html

They've just been Carter'd.

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 11:47 AM
Which, the possibility of Palin aside, isn't too likely. The GOP has a better crop of theoretical 2016 candidates (Haley, Rubio, and likely Jindal and Christie), but Pawlenty is a guaranteed non-catastrophy, as is Mitch Daniels. I think all the GOP will have to do is run a competent (even if mildly boring and/or very short) candidate. There is virtually no conceivable way that unemployment will be at or beneath what it was when Obama took office; it will likely not be beneath 8%. That's a reelection killer.

In related news, House Democrats are angry:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46111.html

They've just been Carter'd.

Before BJ corrects you, catastrophe*. I wouldn't rule out Gingrich for 2012, who would most certainly be a bona fide trainwreck. Pawlenty and Daniels are probably non-trainwrecks, but they're also probably not going to get the nomination.

stephanie
12-08-2010, 01:04 PM
I agree with his argument as it applied to health care reform. However, this argument isn't enough for the tax cuts. We all agree about drawing some lines. This time his line was too far from the lines drawn by his base.

What does that translate into, in practice? Nothing much. Just disappointment and perhaps less of an automatic vote of support. Come election day 2012, he's still going to be closer to his base than any Republican candidate. That's why this political moves are possible. However, if the base gets really disappointed they won't vote at all. And that would be a big loss.

We have two more years to go. We'll see.

The problem with the filibuster is that under the current rules there's basically no cost to the party exercising it, as it's not visible enough. So the Republicans have no check (other than their own sense of right and wrong and good policy objectives) on whether or not to filibuster. So I'm assuming they would have here, as they don't care whether any of this gets passed right now.

That said, the question becomes whether standing up against the Bush tax cuts for income over $250K (or even $1 million) is worth the tradeoff. That being (1) the extension of the unemployment benefits, (2) the payroll tax cut, and (3) the continuation of the tax cuts for income under $250K. Taking politics entirely out of the question, is that tradeoff acceptable? If you believe, as Obama probably does, that the stimulative effects of (2) and (3) will be good for the economy, that (2) will go a little way, in the short term, to ameliorate the disproportionate tax burden felt by the middle class, and that (1) is a moral necessity, then I think it's really, really hard to justify the tradeoff, even if the need for it is caused by the Republicans bad policy or political games.

As AEMJeff said, play it out into the future and assume that the Dems score a political victory here -- the public is mad at the Republicans for screwing up their cuts/unemployment benefits just for the sake of trying to extend it to the richest. What good does that do? Is this going to prevent the Republicans from anything they otherwise would do? If the makeup of Congress was unchanged, maybe it would be a check, but this far from an election and with all the new Republicans coming in, I don't see that.

stephanie
12-08-2010, 01:20 PM
Really? "The Left" is making excuses for Obama? How many people besides (mindless partisan) me, on this side, have been anything but hostile to this?

I've made excuses. That's because (unlike rcocean), I care more about unemployment benefits and stimulus (and helping out the middle class in the short term) than telling the rich to fuck off. (Also, I think on economic issues I'm to his right under any actually reasonable analysis.)

If rcocean is right in his claim that Real Conservatives think like him, and the TP is full of people with his views, it both explains their incoherency and further depresses me about American politics. Basically, the desire to whine and complain and tell Goldman Sachs and AIG to (again) fuck off is worth the tradeoff of helping get into office people who care first and foremost about cutting taxes on the rich and making our tax code less and less progressive (and free trade and not standing in the way of outsourcing and winking at illegal immigration and the employment of people here illegally and all that pro corporate stuff). But, whatever, go for it, rcocean and fellow Real Conservatives or Reagan Dems or whoever you are speaking for.

And, as a practical matter, I'm plenty hostile - it's awful policy. My point was about the pragmatic politics involved here.

Agreed.

operative
12-08-2010, 01:26 PM
Before BJ corrects you, catastrophe*. I wouldn't rule out Gingrich for 2012, who would most certainly be a bona fide trainwreck. Pawlenty and Daniels are probably non-trainwrecks, but they're also probably not going to get the nomination.

Maybe. It can be pretty unpredictable, so I wouldn't count anyone out. Except Palin.

nikkibong
12-08-2010, 01:29 PM
I don't get your "real conservative" shtick. You play that role around here, and then make posts like this where you oppose lower taxes, free trade, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm confused.

clarity awaits:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoconservatism

incidentally, doesn't the fact that buchanan has been basically "ignored" for over a decade say more about the state of the conservative moment than conservative ideology in itself? you can call wars for human rights (afghanistan and iraq) lots of things (even trotskyist!) but "conservative" ain't one of them. it is NEO-conservatism that represents a break with traditional conservatism.

nikkibong
12-08-2010, 01:38 PM
rc's intellectual incoherence aside, Pat Buchanan makes for an interesting paradigm, given his (rc's) predilections regarding race theorists such as Steve Sailer and R. S. McCain.

what the hell? isn't it more intellectually incoherent to support low taxes on the rich while simultaneously waging hugely expensive wars? or, to put it more plainly: isn't it chiwisoxx who lacks coherence here?

you may not be "mindlessly partisan" but you're looking generally pretty mindless in this post.

AemJeff
12-08-2010, 02:09 PM
what the hell? isn't it more intellectually incoherent to support low taxes on the rich while simultaneously waging hugely expensive wars? or, to put it more plainly: isn't it chiwisoxx who lacks coherence here?

you may not be "mindlessly partisan" but you're looking generally pretty mindless in this post.

You haven't adequately (or even accurately) described the pov that rc seems to subscribe to. He's, at best, a borderline xenophobic anti-intellectual populist with obnoxiously socially conservative views who doesn't seem to fully understand the "conservatism" he always trying to write people out of, based on standards that seem to add up to "doesn't agree with rcocean." That's not a coherent point of view, and it certainly does not add up to "paleocon."

Oddly, considering how much you seem to flack for him, you don't even seem to understand his stance on taxation (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=187967&highlight=rich#post187967), for instance. Mindlessness, indeed.

Wonderment
12-08-2010, 03:09 PM
As AEMJeff said, play it out into the future and assume that the Dems score a political victory here -- the public is mad at the Republicans for screwing up their cuts/unemployment benefits just for the sake of trying to extend it to the richest.

Then why did they make "end tax cuts for the rich" the cornerstone of their fiscal policy? And they were united about it. Every Dem. in the primaries had the same talking points about the greedy, evil, corrupt Republicans who just wanted to stick it to poor people while benefiting the bizillionaires who owned them.

I wish I had a .001% tax break for every time I heard Bill, Hillary, Gore, Edwards, Kerry, et al ramble on about how "[rich] people like me" shouldn't get a tax break at the expense of middle class folks. Obama took up the mantra with a vengeance.

There are political costs for such monumental failure to deliver on promises.

AemJeff
12-08-2010, 03:19 PM
Then why did they make "end tax cuts for the rich" the cornerstone of their fiscal policy? And they were united about it. Every Dem. in the primaries had the same talking points about the greedy, evil, corrupt Republicans who just wanted to stick it to poor people while benefiting the bizillionaires who owned them.

I wish I had a .001% tax break for every time I heard Bill, Hillary, Gore, Edwards, Kerry, et al ramble on about how "[rich] people like me" shouldn't get a tax break at the expense of middle class folks. Obama took up the mantra with a vengeance.

There are political costs for such monumental failure to deliver on promises.

So blame the Democrats for getting fucked by the structural problems of the Senate (and Ted Kennedy's untimely death) and the belligerent recklessness of Mitch McConnell? Without a sixtieth Democrat they didn't have the means to deliver on their stated goals. Why do you seem so determined to make it easier for the Republicans to continue fucking us? Instead of bitching about what you didn't get, why not work to make it possible to get more of it next time? Carping because the basket isn't full ignores the simple fact that without the efforts of the people you're demonizing it would be completely empty. They delivered quite a bit of what they promised.

chiwhisoxx
12-08-2010, 03:23 PM
clarity awaits:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoconservatism

incidentally, doesn't the fact that buchanan has been basically "ignored" for over a decade say more about the state of the conservative moment than conservative ideology in itself? you can call wars for human rights (afghanistan and iraq) lots of things (even trotskyist!) but "conservative" ain't one of them. it is NEO-conservatism that represents a break with traditional conservatism.

Your condescension aside (thanks, I know what paleocons are) part of the point is what Jeff already said: RC isn't really a paleocon. On the larger point, I think you're actually right. I don't think the fact that Buchanan himself has been ignored is a bad thing, because I think he's a noxious figure with lots of bad ideas, regardless of his paleoconservatism. But yes, the fact that the more realist wing of foreign policy has lost a lot of sway and influence in the Republican party is a bad thing, and a break with the past. I don't necessarily agree with the realists, but their presence is valuable as a check on the rest of the party, and for raising the level of debate.

stephanie
12-08-2010, 04:14 PM
Then why did they make "end tax cuts for the rich" the cornerstone of their fiscal policy?

Basically, what Jeff said. Because we have more than one branch of government. Because we have the filibuster, which gives the minority a lot of power to block legislation if they choose to exercise it.

Why did they say they were against the tax cut and wanted to end it? IMO, because it's the right thing to do. It was a bad idea to pass the tax cut in the first place. But that doesn't mean that ending it is as simple as saying so.

I mean, obviously, it expires, so it's easy to get rid of it. But you do so at a tradeoff of everything else you want. So the question is how important you think those things are vs. the importance of not raising taxes on the rich (or those making over $250K) right now. While the Dems said they wanted to raise taxes on the rich, they didn't say that they thought it was more important to do so than to extend unemployment benefits or cut payroll taxes or keep the portion of the tax cuts that affect the middle class during an economic situation like we currently have. For example, I think the Bush tax cuts in their entirety were pointless and unnecessary, but I don't think it's a good idea to let them all expire, including that on the middle class, given the economic conditions. It wouldn't bother me much if they did, in the absence of the other elements of the compromise, but that's one example of how the economic situation affects this.

Beyond the immediate situation, I suppose you could ask why the Dems/Obama didn't deal with the expiring Bush tax cuts before or force a real filibuster on anything, but the answer is that there were other legislative priorities, and I don't think anyone ever thought that reinstituting Clinton level taxes on those making more than $250K or $1 million was a higher priority than dealing with the economic crisis, than health care, or than the various other legislative efforts that the administration took up before this. More significantly, it's the same question as with everything else -- why didn't they force the Republicans to actually filibuster? I think the most likely answer is that it may have been a political victory, but again one which came at the expense of getting things done, and they saw the past two years as both the best option for making some progress on health care and were detoured from their original plans by the economic crisis.

Politically, I don't think raising taxes on the rich is what they should have gone to the mat over, definitely not at the expense of unemployment. It's politically favored, but that doesn't mean that people want it to be the Dem's first priority. The political failing of this administration is their failure to give us any real populist effort to fight for, though. That even for the various legislative efforts and successes they failed to connect them to such a message, but ended up making them seem all technocratic at best and subject to the entrenched interests.

Edit: plus, they are going to have to revisit the tax issue soon enough, if they want to pretend to be dealing with the deficit, which the Republicans have all claimed they care about.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 04:19 PM
In related news, House Democrats are angry:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46111.html

Good for them. They have quite a bit of right to be. And further, the only way to keep a Democratic president from succumbing to pressure from the right is to provide pressure from the left.

I know you're itching to type-without-thinking your usual talking points about OBAMA HAS ALWAYS BEEN FAR-LEFT!!!1!. Resist that temptation. It simply isn't true, and the past two years show that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

stephanie
12-08-2010, 04:20 PM
Good for them. They have quite a bit of right to be. And further, the only way to keep a Democratic president from succumbing to pressure from the right is to provide pressure from the left.

Correct.

popcorn_karate
12-08-2010, 04:28 PM
So blame the Democrats for getting fucked by the structural problems of the Senate (and Ted Kennedy's untimely death) and the belligerent recklessness of Mitch McConnell? Without a sixtieth Democrat they didn't have the means to deliver on their stated goals. Why do you seem so determined to make it easier for the Republicans to continue fucking us? Instead of bitching about what you didn't get, why not work to make it possible to get more of it next time? Carping because the basket isn't full ignores the simple fact that without the efforts of the people you're demonizing it would be completely empty. They delivered quite a bit of what they promised.


you know that scene from Deliverance where they tell ned beatty to "sqeal like a pig"?

If you were in the movie you'd have ruined it because the next scene would be you vociferously defending the cultural underpinnings of their world view and socio-political realities that forced those poor mountain men to rape you, and how squealing like a pig is actually considered a sport in some county fairs, and...

operative
12-08-2010, 04:31 PM
Good for them. They have quite a bit of right to be. And further, the only way to keep a Democratic president from succumbing to pressure from the right is to provide pressure from the left.

I know you're itching to type-without-thinking your usual talking points about OBAMA HAS ALWAYS BEEN FAR-LEFT!!!1!. Resist that temptation. It simply isn't true, and the past two years show that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Actually I think the reason the Dems are so angry is because this is the first time that he's really gone against the base on an issue that actually matters to people. Gitmo is still open (and unless I'm missing something, will continue to be for the indefinite future), pretty much all of the Clinton and Bush era security/antiterrorism measures remain in place, etc. but this is the one that has really rubbed folks the wrong way--I'd say for two reasons: 1) people actually care about taxes, whereas most of the public doesn't really care whether enemy combatants are in Gitmo or some other facility, and 2) this is one where Obama caved when he probably didn't have to.

AemJeff
12-08-2010, 04:40 PM
you know that scene from Deliverance where they tell ned beatty to "sqeal like a pig"?

If you were in the movie you'd have ruined it because the next scene would be you vociferously defending the cultural underpinnings of their world view and socio-political realities that forced those poor mountain men to rape you, and how squealing like a pig is actually considered a sport in some county fairs, and...

So... which part of that metaphor represents the role of the Republicans in the Senate, pk? And which part of the political and legislative processes does "squealing like a pig" get mapped onto?

If I were to try and force that ugly thing to carry some part of what I've said here, I'd probably posit that Ned Beatty's character ought not be blamed for becoming the victim of an assault over which he had no control. But, I doubt I'd have tried to get any use at all out of such an ill-suited tool.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 04:45 PM
Here's a centrist take from Jill Lawrence at Politics Daily: "Tax-Cut Deal: If It's Good for Regular Americans, Isn't That Good Enough for Now? (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/12/07/tax-cut-deal-if-its-good-for-regular-americans-isnt-that-goo/)"

On a related note, here's occasional B'head and center/left columnist Michael Tomasky (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2010/dec/07/obama-administration-republicans-the-tax-deal): "Liberals may not like it, but President Obama actually won useful concessions from Republicans in this deal."

operative
12-08-2010, 04:48 PM
On a related note, here's occasional B'head and center/left columnist Michael Tomasky (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2010/dec/07/obama-administration-republicans-the-tax-deal): "Liberals may not like it, but President Obama actually won useful concessions from Republicans in this deal."

I gather that folks like Rush Limbaugh are saying that the GOP gave too much, but he'd likely be saying that no matter what. I don't like the unemployment extension but I think most GOPers (Jim DeMint & co. aside) would surrender a year's extension on that to get the tax cut extensions (the payroll tax holiday was great too).

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 04:58 PM
Actually I think the reason the Dems are so angry is because this is the first time that he's really gone against the base on an issue that actually matters to people.

Probably not the first -- cf. the President's reference to the public option in his press conference yesterday, and depending on how you want to define "base" and "matters," I could name a few others -- but there is something to your point.

[...] ... and 2) this is one where Obama caved when he probably didn't have to.

Interesting that you would say this. Why don't you think he had to? Do you think the GOP would have blinked? Or how else might this have gone differently?

operative
12-08-2010, 05:20 PM
Interesting that you would say this. Why don't you think he had to? Do you think the GOP would have blinked? Or how else might this have gone differently?

One of two things: 1) The GOP caves (possible--Boehner said something that suggested that could possibly happen a while back), or 2) no one blinks and the game of chicken ends with the Dems being able to put forth the "GOP wouldn't give you a tax cut because they couldn't get one for millionaires!" line for months. Strategically, that seems to be a win for the Dems--as I said elsewhere, I think the GOP had less to gain and more to lose. If I were a Dem strategist, I would've absolutely advised Obama to hold out, and if I were a GOP strategist, I would've advised them to settle earlier in the debate, likely receiving less in return.

Personally, I think the GOP would've blinked at the last minute.

popcorn_karate
12-08-2010, 06:10 PM
But, I doubt I'd have tried to get any use at all out of such an ill-suited tool.

yeah, that was my frustration talking.

Wonderment
12-08-2010, 06:20 PM
Basically, what Jeff said. Because we have more than one branch of government. Because we have the filibuster, which gives the minority a lot of power to block legislation if they choose to exercise it.


But that's not how they pitched it. They didn't say, "We will let the tax cuts for millionaires expire if we elect 60 Dem. Senators." They didn't say, "We will let the tax cuts for millionaires expire, unless we have to bargain on some other grounds or in order to keep tax cuts for the middle class." They didn't say, "We will let the tax cuts for millionaires expire, unless the Republicans are really mean to us or outsmart us." They just said, "Elect us and we will Change this."

If anything, it looked too easy, since the tax cuts were set to expire on 12/31 automatically.

plus, they are going to have to revisit the tax issue soon enough, if they want to pretend to be dealing with the deficit, which the Republicans have all claimed they care about.

Both parties are mindbogglingly deficitophilic. The Repubs. just cut a 900,000,000 dollar deficit increase deal with Obama (he, kicking and screaming), and the bond market (where real money talks about the deficit) tanked on the news.

Also, the Repubs. have never seen a military expenditure they didn't fall in love with, no questions asked. Indeed, they are conditioning support for New Start on billions more to upgrade the useless nukes that we'll still have. These are the same nukes Obama claims he wants to abolish, as do several former Republican SecDefs.

Republicans like to play the Dems. on the deficit in order to reject all spending on the social safety net, health, the environment and education. They bet on the fact that their base will not see defense and national security spending or the millionaire tax cut as deficit spending.

stephanie
12-08-2010, 06:57 PM
But that's not how they pitched it.

No one ever pitches anything as "we will do this if we manage to get the votes." It's implied. Also, they put themselves into a situation where they needed other stuff before the end of the session (i.e., unemployment extension), so had an incentive to compromise.

If anything, it looked too easy, since the tax cuts were set to expire on 12/31 automatically.

And this is where the economic situation comes in. I think that affects how willing the Dems were to just let the whole thing expire.

Both parties are mindbogglingly deficitophilic.

True. I'm not opposed to people realizing this.

Republicans like to play the Dems. on the deficit in order to reject all spending on the social safety net, health, the environment and education. They bet on the fact that their base will not see defense and national security spending or the millionaire tax cut as deficit spending.

I agree with this too.

Ocean
12-08-2010, 07:29 PM
I think that the Democrats will have to work even harder trying to repair the current sense of disappointment that a portion of their electorate feels. And Obama may be mistaken if he thinks that it's only the extreme left that objects to this move. At least there should be a more serious consideration to the fact that people may just be getting tired of so many disappointments.

TwinSwords
12-08-2010, 08:22 PM
http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/8433/tolespalin.png

(source (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/tomtoles/))

cragger
12-08-2010, 10:25 PM
That "large majorities" part is not quite fair, given the realities of how the Senate works. You're also not accounting for the big-tent aspect of the Democratic Party -- lots of fairly conservative people in both houses have (D) at the end of their name, but that doesn't mean all (D)s march in lockstep.

Holding the White House, 59 or 60 Senate seats, and what, a 259-176 edge in the House is pretty large, much more so than either party has commonly held.

Whatever size tent one might want to consider the Democratic party as living under, at the end of the day the Democrats as they exist in power are who they are, and do what they do, or don't. So maybe they could do better, make significant progress on root problems and so on, if only they were different. But then if only Jim Inhofe was more like Howard Baker he wouldn't be half as vile and stupid. If only the local high school basketball team were a foot taller, quicker, and had better ball handling and shooting skills they could kick ass in the NBA. Unfortunately none of these things are true and the record does count. It affects how people react to the party and the effort and enthusiasm they have toward trying to get more of its members into office. "We pretty much suck, but the other guys are even worse" may be true, but it doesn't generate much energy, nor apparantly lead to tremendous electoral results.

Ocean
12-08-2010, 10:59 PM
Yes, but this one (http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/367377/december-06-2010/the-word---unrequited-gov) presents another perspective.

rcocean
12-08-2010, 11:05 PM
what the hell? isn't it more intellectually incoherent to support low taxes on the rich while simultaneously waging hugely expensive wars? or, to put it more plainly: isn't it chiwisoxx who lacks coherence here?

you may not be "mindlessly partisan" but you're looking generally pretty mindless in this post.

Nikiki,

Thanks for your statements. Frankly, I thought pretty much everyone, except for a few British ex-pats and Neo-cons, would agree that avoidable (not to mention expensive and endless) wars are a bad thing.

Or that pretty much every average Joe - outside of some absurd libertarians - would like the the rich to pay their fair share in taxes and for the poor to pay as little tax as possible. Taxes should be borne by those who can most afford it. Conservatives believe those who create jobs, play by the rules and work hard shouldn't be punished - but what does that have to do with the current policy whereby a millionaire hedge fund manager getting taxed at 15% while a 7-11 clerk pays the same rate?

As for "free trade". Conservatives are patriots - and accordingly are in favor of "Free Trade" when it helps the USA and the average American and against it when it doesn't. International Trade policy - like all economic policies- are simply a means to an end.

TwinSwords
12-08-2010, 11:26 PM
Holding the White House, 59 or 60 Senate seats, and what, a 259-176 edge in the House is pretty large, much more so than either party has commonly held.

Even if there wasn't a key factor left out of your analysis, the Democrats STILL needed 100% of their Senate caucus to pass anything -- and that was only during the very brief period when they had 60 seats. That brief period lasted from the time Norm Coleman's challenge to Al Franken's victory ended to the point when Scott Brown was seated.

That's July 7, 2009 through February 4, 2010. Less than 7 months of the 2 year term.

But you're overlooking another critical fact: the existence of conservative Democrats. The reason Democrats have greater difficulty with big majorities than Republicans with slim majorities is because there are a significant number of conservative Democrats who side with the Republicans. Republicans don't have to deal with the problem of liberal Republicans, and when they have controlled the Senate with fewer than 60 seats, they could always count on getting enough Democrats to go along with them to pass anything they wanted.

The other possible problem is that Obama himself may be a conservative Democrat, and may be driving the agenda towards some of these outcomes (e.g., health care) deliberately, and not only because the Senate was still controlled by conservatives during the first two years of his presidency.

TwinSwords
12-08-2010, 11:32 PM
If only the local high school basketball team were a foot taller, quicker, and had better ball handling and shooting skills they could kick ass in the NBA. Unfortunately none of these things are true and the record does count. It affects how people react to the party and the effort and enthusiasm they have toward trying to get more of its members into office. "We pretty much suck, but the other guys are even worse" may be true, but it doesn't generate much energy, nor apparantly lead to tremendous electoral results.
Yes. And that, my friend, is precisely why corporations and the wealthy owners of the country recruit conservative Democrats even as they underwrite the Republican Party; they invest in conservatives in both parties so that even when Republicans lose, the corporations and wealthy still win. As an added bonus, the experience is deeply disappointing to the Democratic base; conservative Democrats foil the ambitions of the base, leading to the kind of apathy and disillusionment you see described, e.g., here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=191886#post191886).

The plutocrats aren't stupid, and are deeply invested in protecting their prerogatives.

TwinSwords
12-08-2010, 11:37 PM
As for "free trade". Conservatives are patriots - and accordingly are in favor of "Free Trade" when it helps the USA and the average American and against it when it doesn't. International Trade policy - like all economic policies- are simply a means to an end.

I doubt we agree on all, or even many, trade issues. But you are right to put "free trade" in quotes. "Free trade" is "free" in precisely the same way that "peace keeper missiles" keep peace, or the PATRIOT ACT is about patriotism. "Free trade" is a marketing label to describe highly complex legal agreements that spell out in great detail who the winners are, and who the losers are. Wasn't NAFTA something like 1700 pages?

"Free trade" agreements are designed to undermine the American middle class -- and they have been wildly successful. American corporations are forced (by laws they opposed throughout the 20th century) to provide American workers with a certain minimum standard of living - a minimum wage, a 40 hour work week, certain benefits, Social Security, unemployment insurance, etc. When conservatives found themselves unable to repeal these laws at in the domestic political arena, they did the next logical thing: draft "free trade" agreements that would force "pampered" American workers to compete with slave labor in 3rd world countries. The fact is, American workers cannot compete with 3rd world labor, so our standard of living is being rapidly downgraded.

Advocates of "free trade" are lowering the American standard of living to the global mean. Gains that the working class spent a 100 years fighting and dying for are now being lost to competition from slave states.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 11:52 PM
One of two things: 1) The GOP caves (possible--Boehner said something that suggested that could possibly happen a while back), or 2) no one blinks and the game of chicken ends with the Dems being able to put forth the "GOP wouldn't give you a tax cut because they couldn't get one for millionaires!" line for months. Strategically, that seems to be a win for the Dems--as I said elsewhere, I think the GOP had less to gain and more to lose. If I were a Dem strategist, I would've absolutely advised Obama to hold out, and if I were a GOP strategist, I would've advised them to settle earlier in the debate, likely receiving less in return.

Personally, I think the GOP would've blinked at the last minute.

Thanks for your views. I guess you have more confidence in the Dems' spine and stick-togetherness than I do. And than Obama does, most likely.

bjkeefe
12-08-2010, 11:56 PM
Holding the White House, 59 or 60 Senate seats, and what, a 259-176 edge in the House is pretty large, much more so than either party has commonly held.

Yes, perhaps. Although not unheard of. But in any case, the changing rules of the Senate, the changing hardening of the GOP, and the broader spread of people with (D) after their names are all factors that matter. It's pointless for you to talk about; e.g., ...

But then if only Jim Inhofe was more like Howard Baker he wouldn't be half as vile and stupid.

... without realizing that you're making the same "if only" argument to wish away those realities I listed above.

chiwhisoxx
12-09-2010, 12:00 AM
Wasn't NAFTA something like 1700 pages?


You should know better than to criticize a piece of legislation than by noting the page count. This was one of the stupider things conservatives tried during the healthcare debate, and it doesn't work any better with trade.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 12:15 AM
You should know better than to criticize a piece of legislation than by noting the page count. This was one of the stupider things conservatives tried during the healthcare debate, and it doesn't work any better with trade.

Oh, you're absolutely right about that. But I don't think it applies in this case, because the marketing buzz phrase "free trade" is meant to imply something quite different than a highly detailed and comprehensive legal instrument. We're supposed to think "free trade" is what occurs in nature, in the absence of legislation. The fact is that NAFTA was written by corporations, for corporations. It was comprehensively designed to benefit corporations at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the population.

chiwhisoxx
12-09-2010, 12:25 AM
Oh, you're absolutely right about that. But I don't think it applies in this case, because the marketing buzz phrase "free trade" is meant to imply something quite different than a highly detailed and comprehensive legal instrument. We're supposed to think "free trade" is what occurs in nature, in the absence of legislation. The fact is that NAFTA was written by corporations, for corporations. It was comprehensively designed to benefit corporations at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the population.

And in an ironic twist, you could make a pretty similar critique of the health care bill...

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 12:29 AM
And in an ironic twist, you could make a pretty similar critique of the health care bill...

Yes, to a significantly greater degree than I would have liked, but given the corporate/elite control of the nation, we did pretty good.


.

cragger
12-09-2010, 01:16 AM
Brendan and Twin, to respond to a couple of the things you both with a single post -

I'm not unaware of any of the problems you have pointed out, nor do I disagree with them. But still. Listing problems and excuses why they can't get significant things done doesn't change the fact that they aren't doing them. Great, they are partly products of a corrupt process, owned by corporations and wealthy interests. That just doesn't make people happier with the resultant performance, or all that excited to go out and work to get a Democrat owned by Exxon and Lockheed elected instead of a Republican with the same masters.

The Senate rules excuse just doesn't wash. If rule changes over the past few years or decades are the problem, there isn't much excuse for a party with that majority not just changing them back. Recall when the Republicans said they would just change the fillibuster rules by simple majority if the Democrats didn't cave in and pass the handful of extreme right wing judges that had been held up? Recall also the result, the Democrats caved and gave them nearly all the judges they wanted. Now the Democrats can't get even bland moderate judges through and they sit back and say "gosh, those darn Republicans, nothin' can we do". Is it surprising that doesn't inspire?

There just isn't a sense that the Democrats as a party are willing to fight for much of anything, to go to the mat over core principles and important issues and never stop fighting for them. If it takes rules changes, or even major structural changes, then make the case and make the changes. People respond to results, and they aren't seeing them. They also tend to respect folks that fight for things they believe in, especially if they share those beliefs. They get tired of excuses.

I get that this is an open forum, no aid and comfort to the enemy, defend the side and all that. But I suspect that you are both as aware of the things I'm saying as I am of the things you said. And that this is part of why the Democrats got stomped in the last election. It's not the whole story, but it's still there and a problem for them.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 01:28 AM
Brendan and Twin, to respond to a couple of the things you both with a single post -

I'm not unaware of any of the problems you have pointed out, nor do I disagree with them. But still. Listing problems and excuses why they can't get significant things done doesn't change the fact that they aren't doing them. Great, they are partly products of a corrupt process, owned by corporations and wealthy interests. That just doesn't make people happier with the resultant performance, or all that excited to go out and work to get a Democrat owned by Exxon and Lockheed elected instead of a Republican with the same masters.

The Senate rules excuse just doesn't wash. If rule changes over the past few years or decades are the problem, there isn't much excuse for a party with that majority not just changing them back. Recall when the Republicans said they would just change the fillibuster rules by simple majority if the Democrats didn't cave in and pass the handful of extreme right wing judges that had been held up? Recall also the result, the Democrats caved and gave them nearly all the judges they wanted. Now the Democrats can't get even bland moderate judges through and they sit back and say "gosh, those darn Republicans, nothin' can we do". Is it surprising that doesn't inspire?

There just isn't a sense that the Democrats as a party are willing to fight for much of anything, to go to the mat over core principles and important issues and never stop fighting for them. If it takes rules changes, or even major structural changes, then make the case and make the changes. People respond to results, and they aren't seeing them. They also tend to respect folks that fight for things they believe in, especially if they share those beliefs. They get tired of excuses.

I get that this is an open forum, no aid and comfort to the enemy, defend the side and all that. But I suspect that you are both as aware of the things I'm saying as I am of the things you said. And that this is part of why the Democrats got stomped in the last election. It's not the whole story, but it's still there and a problem for them.

Excellent post, and in particular, great point about the way Republicans were able to effectively terrorize Democrats into submission by threatening to get rid of the filibuster, but the Democrats wouldn't even consider making similar threats once they had control of the Senate. The problem here is that the Democrats come to the table pre-compromised: a substantial portion of Democrats are conservatives and will always be available to support Republican initiatives. We have a two party system, but one and a half of the two parties are conservative -- only one half of the Democratic Party is really liberal.

The only thing I would disagree with (and only in part) is that "the Senate rules excuse just doesn't wash." The Senate was explicitly intended by the Founding Fathers to protect the interests of the rich from too much democracy, and it works beautifully. (Or tragically, I guess.)

The real solution is what you suggest: Major reform. But that's not going to happen, at least not for many, many years.

bjkeefe
12-09-2010, 01:31 AM
[...]

I don't really disagree with the spirit of that, but I still think you're ignoring reality. When have the Dems ever been that united, in the sense that you (and I) wish for? Not in my lifetime. And not in Mr. Rogers's (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/26205.html) lifetime either.

So, you have identified a shortcoming, perhaps. But you might as well be saying "humans would be a lot better off if they weren't so irrational all the time" or "our space program would be a lot farther along if only gravity didn't suck so much" or something of that nature.

We have to work with what we have, and it's not wrong to start from a position of assuming that Dems will never be lockstep zombies like Republicans are, and to try to analyze from there whether something has its good points or not.

Ocean
12-09-2010, 08:28 AM
There just isn't a sense that the Democrats as a party are willing to fight for much of anything, to go to the mat over core principles and important issues and never stop fighting for them. If it takes rules changes, or even major structural changes, then make the case and make the changes. People respond to results, and they aren't seeing them. They also tend to respect folks that fight for things they believe in, especially if they share those beliefs. They get tired of excuses.

The above sounds very true and goes to the core of the current discouragement with the Democrats.



We have to work with what we have, and it's not wrong to start from a position of assuming that Dems will never be lockstep zombies like Republicans are, and to try to analyze from there whether something has its good points or not.


And then there's that, which also sounds true. The question I have is, can't the Democrats learn? Can they figure out a way of getting things done? They need to look at the obstacles the Reps are placing in front of them and think of them as the first problem to be solved instead of complaining that the obstacles are there.

stephanie
12-09-2010, 01:29 PM
Thanks for your statements. Frankly, I thought pretty much everyone, except for a few British ex-pats and Neo-cons, would agree that avoidable (not to mention expensive and endless) wars are a bad thing.

Most people claim to be in favor of avoidable wars. People claim the wars they support are necessary (even the Romans generally claimed they were acting defensively when they invaded other countries). Thus, saying you are against avoidable wars doesn't tell us much. Saying you are against specific wars or continued involvement or defense spending on particular things might tell us a lot more.

It is unlikely to help with the inconsistency claim, however, when you are the one asserting that you speak for "real conservatives" or "the right" and that your Republican opponents are RINOs. It's pretty obvious that Buchanan's foreign policy is not mainstream Republicanism or what's usually meant when people start complaining about foreign policy being too liberal.

It's true that neocon ideology isn't traditionally conservative, but we are talking about what the Republican Party stands for today. Take back the GOP on that issue if you can (and if you want to -- I'm unclear on your foreign policy views), but until you do it's silly to assert that the Republicans are superior (or rightwingers superior to RINOs) because they are against "avoidable wars."

Or that pretty much every average Joe - outside of some absurd libertarians - would like the the rich to pay their fair share in taxes and for the poor to pay as little tax as possible. Taxes should be borne by those who can most afford it. Conservatives believe those who create jobs, play by the rules and work hard shouldn't be punished - but what does that have to do with the current policy whereby a millionaire hedge fund manager getting taxed at 15% while a 7-11 clerk pays the same rate?

On the policy issues, I agree with you. But it's absurd to assert that your view here is "conservative," when basically no one in the leadership of your party (who claim to speak for conservatives) would agree and when they go over the top in attacking the Dems as socialists for saying the same or even milder things. Again, if you can bring the GOP around to your POV on this, great, but until then (and I don't see it happening any time soon), it's ridiculous and inconsistent to call others RINOs or to rant about the Dems acting politically in ways the party you support is much worse on or to fail to take responsibility for how your own political choices affect the resulting policies that you dislike. Indeed, to the extent that you prioritize fun ranting about "elites" over policy and let the Republicans ridiculously claim to be populist, than you are the reason no truly populist policies get passed.

As for "free trade". Conservatives are patriots - and accordingly are in favor of "Free Trade" when it helps the USA and the average American and against it when it doesn't. International Trade policy - like all economic policies- are simply a means to an end.

Again, this would make more sense if you hadn't previously tried to identify "conservative" with "Republican" and accused your opponents of being RINOs. The contemporary Republican Party stands for free trade. The Dems coming around to that POV for the most part is generally accepted as a "conservative" move of Clinton's, and the occasional (weak) pressure in the Dems against the continuing free trade ideology is always decried (by the people you support politically) as horrifyingly leftist.

If you want to argue that Libertarianism (including kneejerk support for free trade and open borders and so on, without question) is far from conservative, I absolutely agree with you and have said as much on this forum many times. But if you want to claim that you thus stand for true conservatism as used in political discourse and -- as you have -- for the real Republicans, you are fooling yourself and being, indeed, incoherent. Chiwhisoxx's views as expressed here are far closer to what the Republicans stand for, and if you don't like it but react by slamming the Dems, that just makes no sense.

popcorn_karate
12-09-2010, 01:46 PM
Yes, but this one (http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/367377/december-06-2010/the-word---unrequited-gov) presents another perspective.

that was a great segment.

chiwhisoxx
12-09-2010, 03:58 PM
Chiwhisoxx's views as expressed here are far closer to what the Republicans stand for, and if you don't like it but react by slamming the Dems, that just makes no sense.

Well I'm a heretic too, just in a different way, since I have very little use for social conservatism.

stephanie
12-09-2010, 05:17 PM
Well I'm a heretic too, just in a different way, since I have very little use for social conservatism.

Good point. I'm not sure I was aware of your views on those issues, but also I was somewhat overlooking them because I'm somewhat cynical about both how much the Republican leadership cares about them and (a related point) how much they really matter in terms of policy. I mean, there are obviously some legal issues that are debated (DADT, for example), but in large part I think the social issues work up the base on both sides but little change really happens.

(For example, I think the Republicans would suffer politically if abortion were actually more open to legislation than it is, so I think their leadership (as opposed to certain interest groups and activists) are probably not so unhappy that they can use it to rail against the courts and the liberals, but that it's not going to change in a meaningful way. It's pretty similar to how I see them using the immigration issue, and I'm not claiming you don't see similar things among the Dems either. But maybe I'm being too cynical.)

chiwhisoxx
12-09-2010, 05:26 PM
Good point. I'm not sure I was aware of your views on those issues, but also I was somewhat overlooking them because I'm somewhat cynical about both how much the Republican leadership cares about them and (a related point) how much they really matter in terms of policy. I mean, there are obviously some legal issues that are debated (DADT, for example), but in large part I think the social issues work up the base on both sides but little change really happens.

(For example, I think the Republicans would suffer politically if abortion were actually more open to legislation than it is, so I think their leadership (as opposed to certain interest groups and activists) are probably not so unhappy that they can use it to rail against the courts and the liberals, but that it's not going to change in a meaningful way. It's pretty similar to how I see them using the immigration issue, and I'm not claiming you don't see similar things among the Dems either. But maybe I'm being too cynical.)

I think abortion is different because I get the sense that's it's a culture war issue that people really truly care about. It's also an important issue, even though it's not one I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I think it's really quite different from nonsense cultural issues like flag burning and gay marriage.

stephanie
12-09-2010, 06:17 PM
There just isn't a sense that the Democrats as a party are willing to fight for much of anything, to go to the mat over core principles and important issues and never stop fighting for them. If it takes rules changes, or even major structural changes, then make the case and make the changes. People respond to results, and they aren't seeing them. They also tend to respect folks that fight for things they believe in, especially if they share those beliefs. They get tired of excuses.

I'm not trying to make excuses for "the Democrats." If the Dems as a whole wanted to do things, they could have done a better job than they have.

What I don't get, however, is what it means to complain about "the Democrats" or talk about what "the Democrats" could have done or even be mad at "the Democrats" (especially when talking about whether it's worth voting for "them" -- by which we mean Obama in '12 or our own Congress members). That I might be frustrated with the politics of, say, Ben Nelson doesn't mean that I should assume that my own representative is not meaningfully different from the Republicans or that he (or Obama) doesn't care about what he says he does.

It may mean that someone else could have controlled the coalition better than the current administration has, but I don't see strong evidence of that.

stephanie
12-09-2010, 06:32 PM
I think abortion is different because I get the sense that's it's a culture war issue that people really truly care about. It's also an important issue, even though it's not one I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I think it's really quite different from nonsense cultural issues like flag burning and gay marriage.

I don't disagree that it's different or that people (which doesn't necessarily mean the party leadership, however) care about the issue. (I think plenty of voters care about flag burning and gay marriage too, though, and the rest of the culture war issues, and abortion is another issue where there's a disconnect between the real expectations of the leadership and what they tell the voters.)

I personally don't vote on abortion and part of why is that I think the politicizing of it on both sides is more about playing politics (and appeasing powerful interest groups) than real policy issues. That's because the law isn't likely to change much and for the most part the significant legislative issues are out of the hands of politicians due to the SC. So what "the abortion issue" ends up being about are largely symbolic legislative fights that don't actually end any abortions and generic pointing fingers based on buzzwords and themes that get out the base.

And obviously saying this is as heretical in the Democratic Party as it would be in the Republicans, and I know what response those who do see it as a crucial dividing issue between the parties are likely to give.

Ocean
12-09-2010, 06:48 PM
I'm not trying to make excuses for "the Democrats." If the Dems as a whole wanted to do things, they could have done a better job than they have.

What I don't get, however, is what it means to complain about "the Democrats" or talk about what "the Democrats" could have done or even be mad at "the Democrats" (especially when talking about whether it's worth voting for "them" -- by which we mean Obama in '12 or our own Congress members). That I might be frustrated with the politics of, say, Ben Nelson doesn't mean that I should assume that my own representative is not meaningfully different from the Republicans or that he (or Obama) doesn't care about what he says he does.

It may mean that someone else could have controlled the coalition better than the current administration has, but I don't see strong evidence of that.

Stephanie, I think the general topic of discussion isn't about the detail of why things are happening one way or the other at an individual level, either personal level or issue level. We are talking about the gestalt as perceived by lay people. There have been many disappointments, and many people have understood that. But it gets to a point that there are so many goals that haven't been achieved and so many frustrations, that people just stop being motivated to express support for the party they voted for. They just may feel it isn't worth it.

I don't consider myself among those. I'll continue to vote no matter what, because I consider voting not only a right but a responsibility. But, I can imagine that many others will not bother unless there's some enthusiasm infused. With so many broken promises, it will be difficult to get people to trust them in the future. Sometimes political moves have to be made to strengthen trust.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 07:28 PM
I'm not trying to make excuses for "the Democrats." If the Dems as a whole wanted to do things, they could have done a better job than they have.

What I don't get, however, is what it means to complain about "the Democrats" or talk about what "the Democrats" could have done or even be mad at "the Democrats" (especially when talking about whether it's worth voting for "them" -- by which we mean Obama in '12 or our own Congress members). That I might be frustrated with the politics of, say, Ben Nelson doesn't mean that I should assume that my own representative is not meaningfully different from the Republicans or that he (or Obama) doesn't care about what he says he does.

It may mean that someone else could have controlled the coalition better than the current administration has, but I don't see strong evidence of that.
Outstanding point. I'm dismayed by the number of Democrats who blame the whole party for failing to do something the Democrats would have done if it hadn't been for the intransigence of the most conservative members. Or who blame Obama because of the refusal of conservative Senate Democrats to support, say, the public option.

stephanie
12-09-2010, 07:29 PM
Stephanie, I think the general topic of discussion isn't about the detail of why things are happening one way or the other at an individual level, either personal level or issue level.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that did seem to be cragger's argument. That there are enough Dems in Congress that if they wanted to do something they could. But of course part of this is that they don't agree on what they want on all relevant things, so when the administration or Congressional leadership tries to get something passed they deal with this. (Also, of course, the filibuster.) If the Republicans are able to remain unified and the Dems are not -- which is what has happened over the past 2 years, and the Dem portion of that was hardly a surprise, then the structure of our government is such that the failures to pass various aspects of the administration's program is hardly a surprise or requires that we assume the administration didn't really want to pass them or didn't try hard enough or whatever.

As an aside, what is remarkable about this is that the Republicans were able to maintain their unified strategy, which I think is partially due to the fact that the Dems rolled over on how the filibuster works, making it easy to do so. More significantly, I think it became easier when it became clear that both not that politically involved or "independent" sorts (not the same groups, but in some ways overlapping) were blaming the Dems/Obama for the lack of accomplishments, so it was a much more effective strategy than they had originally assumed, especially once it became clear that many Dems and liberals also were reacting by blaming the administration and losing their enthusiasm. This serves to encourage this strategy going forward, although I don't blame people for feeling the way they do. (Indeed, I related strongly to the feeling. I'm mad and frustrated too.)

But it gets to a point that there are so many goals that haven't been achieved and so many frustrations, that people just stop being motivated to express support for the party they voted for. They just may feel it isn't worth it.

The uneven way this seems to work -- liberals get mad and blame and take it out on Dems, rightwingers get mad and blame and take it out on "liberals" and "Dems" at least as much as the Republicans in power -- is perhaps a failure of my perception, but I don't think so. Maybe it's because the right can portray doing nothing as success more often than the Dems can (outside of wars, of course). (After all, when the economy allowed the Dems to portray doing almost nothing as success, Clinton was considered successful.)

I don't consider myself among those. I'll continue to vote no matter what, because I consider voting not only a right but a responsibility. But, I can imagine that many others will not bother unless there's some enthusiasm infused. With so many broken promises, it will be difficult to get people to trust them in the future. Sometimes political moves have to be made to strengthen trust.

I don't disagree with your comments about people being frustrated and so on. I just don't understand why being unable to get stuff through Congress is being portrayed as "broken promises." If they try and can't do it, that's not normally considered a broken promise. It's a failure, sure, and possibly they should be blamed for it (although I don't see anyone coming up with easy things that Obama or "the Dems" could have done, given that some of the Dems did not want to do the things that Obama and perhaps our individual Dem representatives and Senators would have voted for, depending on where we all live. There seems to be this assumption that it would have been easy (or, okay, possible) if Obama had just tried harder. But when I look at it I see alternative strategies that might have been more effective, but nothing that goes beyond a judgment call, one I still think the administration was making in good faith. I see nothing that could have been done that would have resulted in a lot more success unless it includes magically making people like Ben Nelson a lot more liberal.

popcorn_karate
12-09-2010, 07:32 PM
Stephanie, I think the general topic of discussion isn't about the detail of why things are happening one way or the other at an individual level, either personal level or issue level. We are talking about the gestalt as perceived by lay people. There have been many disappointments, and many people have understood that. But it gets to a point that there are so many goals that haven't been achieved and so many frustrations, that people just stop being motivated to express support for the party they voted for. They just may feel it isn't worth it.

I don't consider myself among those. I'll continue to vote no matter what, because I consider voting not only a right but a responsibility. But, I can imagine that many others will not bother unless there's some enthusiasm infused. With so many broken promises, it will be difficult to get people to trust them in the future. Sometimes political moves have to be made to strengthen trust.

The essential problem is leadership. Obama was elected to be a leader, and he just never showed up for that job. at all.

I have two theories about that. One is that by not being out in front he was trying to make the republican hate machine have to have many disparate targets instead of focusing solely on him. not a crazy strategy considering the power of the media oligarchs that own the majority of the public debate in america.

the other theory is the "give 'em enough rope and they'll hang themselves" theory. It seemed to me a week or two ago that this was his hidden genius plan finally coming to fruition. then he cut this deal which means this was never his plan, or he just didn't have the stones to go through with the final act of that play.

The central problem here is that most people just want to feel like there someone doing whats right. they don't want the endless details of legislative battles etc. This human need is where obama has completely failed. whether he has some grand strategy or not is becoming irrelevant, because nobody will care by the time any of it "works". Personally, i still have a faint hope that he has a backbone and a principle or two and that we'll see that come out in the next couple of years - but i doubt that it will be enough to change the narrative he has created about his lack of leadership and tendency to preemptively negotiate against himself.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 07:35 PM
Stephanie, I think the general topic of discussion isn't about the detail of why things are happening one way or the other at an individual level, either personal level or issue level. We are talking about the gestalt as perceived by lay people. There have been many disappointments, and many people have understood that. But it gets to a point that there are so many goals that haven't been achieved and so many frustrations, that people just stop being motivated to express support for the party they voted for. They just may feel it isn't worth it.
This is what finally happened to the Republicans in 2008. The ultraconservative extremists, the ones who thought Bush was a socialist, were furious at the direction of their party, and when McCain was nominated, many of them resolved to stay home on election day. Depressed Republican voter turnout was, I believe, a major factor in Obama's victory. The selection of Sarah Palin was probably calculated to rouse the Republican base, and to an extent it did, but not by a big enough margin.

Those very same depressed conservatives became the rank and file of the tea party movement once Obama was in office, and they resolved to purify their party of "socialists" like Bush and McCain -- and to a considerable extent, they have been successful. The Republican Party of 2010 is substantially more extreme than the already breathtakingly extreme Republican Party of 2008.

The interesting question is will depressed Democrats be able to take control of their party and force it to more closely align with their values, the way the teabaggers did. I don't think they can. But, and here's the key, even if they could, it wouldn't lead to electoral success, because the Democrats need a steady infusion of funds from the rich and corporations. This is part of the reason Democrats start pre-compromised: the cost of doing business in American politics is so high that collaboration with the rich and corporations is a cost of doing business. This isn't always automatically bad, because the rich and corporations are not embodiments of evil. But the need to collaborate with them does mean that certain kinds of change are almost impossible.

To be honest, I'm amazed we achieved as much as we did in the past two years.


I don't consider myself among those. I'll continue to vote no matter what, because I consider voting not only a right but a responsibility. But, I can imagine that many others will not bother unless there's some enthusiasm infused. With so many broken promises, it will be difficult to get people to trust them in the future. Sometimes political moves have to be made to strengthen trust.
Yes. Furthermore, there was a lot of moral outrage that fueled Democratic turnout in 2008 -- outrage over torture, war, police state powers, etc. And because he has failed to correct any of these problems, there will be significantly less energy in the Democratic base in 2012 than there was in 2008. I don't think Obama's chances in 2012 are looking too good; not when he has to win states like Ohio and Florida.

Ocean
12-09-2010, 07:43 PM
I'm not going to try to explain this again.

All I know is that Obama and the Democratic Party will be better off studying very seriously what's going on now. Instead of dismissing the part of their base that is NOW getting to an extreme point of frustration, they should watch and listen, and make corrections, because they are going to need all possible votes. If they continue to repeat what the obstacles were, endlessly, they're not going to be able to grasp how they're being seen. People who vote for candidates want candidates that will do the right thing. That involves the will and the skills to get it done. Since most people can understand that there are obstacles, and that not everything is possible, there's a certain amount of tolerance to frustration which is reasonable to expect. But there is a certain point beyond which trust is lost, fairly or unfairly. And that means political defeat.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 07:48 PM
I'm not going to try to explain this again.

All I know is that Obama and the Democratic Party will be better off studying very seriously what's going on now. Instead of dismissing the part of their base that is NOW getting to an extreme point of frustration, they should watch and listen, and make corrections, because they are going to need all possible votes. If they continue to repeat what the obstacles were, endlessly, they're not going to be able to grasp how they're being seen. People who vote for candidates want candidates that will do the right thing. That involves the will and the skills to get it done. Since most people can understand that there are obstacles, and that not everything is possible, there's a certain amount of tolerance to frustration which is reasonable to expect. But there is a certain point beyond which trust is lost, fairly or unfairly. And that means political defeat.

I'm rather struck by how rapidly and dramatically you have turned on a dime -- from criticizing Obama's critics until very recently, to now being perhaps the most outspoken critic on this board over the last two or three days.

Please note that I don't begrudge you your considered opinion; as always, I respect your views a great deal. But the sudden and dramatic shift is notable.

Ocean
12-09-2010, 07:49 PM
The central problem here is that most people just want to feel like there someone doing whats right. they don't want the endless details of legislative battles etc. This human need is where obama has completely failed. whether he has some grand strategy or not is becoming irrelevant, because nobody will care by the time any of it "works". Personally, i still have a faint hope that he has a backbone and a principle or two and that we'll see that come out in the next couple of years - but i doubt that it will be enough to change the narrative he has created about his lack of leadership and tendency to preemptively negotiate against himself.

Yes, I agree with the above completely. You articulated what I've been trying to express very well. I also have some hope, and I still think very highly about Obama. He's been dealt an extremely difficult hand, and the strategy being used is failing because of the above. I wish the Dems stop saying that this is about the extreme left (I think they were right about that earlier in the game, like in HCR). Now it's gone beyond that. I don't know whether something can be done, but I hope there is, and they figure it out.

stephanie
12-09-2010, 07:57 PM
I'm not going to try to explain this again.

All I know is that Obama and the Democratic Party will be better off studying very seriously what's going on now. Instead of dismissing the part of their base that is NOW getting to an extreme point of frustration, they should watch and listen, and make corrections, because they are going to need all possible votes. If they continue to repeat what the obstacles were, endlessly, they're not going to be able to grasp how they're being seen. People who vote for candidates want candidates that will do the right thing. That involves the will and the skills to get it done. Since most people can understand that there are obstacles, and that not everything is possible, there's a certain amount of tolerance to frustration which is reasonable to expect. But there is a certain point beyond which trust is lost, fairly or unfairly. And that means political defeat.

So the Republicans win. That's what this means.

I mean, let's assume that everyone knows that failing to pass legislation that the base wants is seen as a failure by Obama (at least by the base and by lots of others, depending on the issue). I don't think that's all that disputed.

But what does that mean? You seem to think the problem is that Obama et al. are failing to acknowledge this, that they assume it's cool with the base. And, yes, they've expressed frustration and various people (including some of us here) have tried to defend them against the charge that they just didn't care about passing whatever it is. But I don't think it is. I think they know it's seen as a failure so would avoid that failure if they could, but structurally have not been able to pass what people want passed.

So, again, what does this mean? Does it mean Obama's a crappy leader (as popcorn karate says) and someone else would have been successful? Maybe, although I'm skeptical when I remember Clinton and consider the alternatives. But even so, the question is still what do we do now?

I'm seeing a bunch of frustration and anger (which again I totally relate to, even if I think a lot of it is misdirected when it seems to be more focused against Obama than the Republicans). But I'm not seeing good alternative strategies. The idea that not passing anything is a better strategy than this compromise seems clearly wrong to me. Can we play politics and get something slightly better? Sure, maybe, and that would be great. But I feel like you all are saying it would be better to have no compromise of any sort and no legislation than give on the extension of tax cuts for the rich, and I think that's wrong politically, as well as policy-wise.*

But that I disagree (and presumably that the administration disagrees) does not mean that we don't see the frustration or think not getting stuff passed is not a problem. It's just that I'm not smart enough and maybe the adminstration aren't smart enough or good enough leaders or whatever to see how we can get all this stuff passed better than it has been, especially going forward.

So you seem to be telling me that the Republicans have simply won. Fabulous.

Of course, if the economy gets better, all bets are off.

*I'm not sure, but I think part of this argument is that the administration is discounting how disaffected the left will be if we allow the tax cuts for the rich to be extended. My response, again, is won't the left be disaffected if we don't extend unemployment insurance? Why is the one issue more significant? Because the Republicans will compromise on one and not the other?

Edit: And the "Obama lacks backbone" argument is not actually the same as "the Dems don't pass what they promise." Because the focus on backbone is basically saying we'd rather tell the Republicans to fuck off and then let the American people decide who to blame. Under that scenario there is no legislation passed on the key issues (well, except no one gets tax cuts and Obama gets to veto tax cut bills next year if he wants).

Ocean
12-09-2010, 08:01 PM
I'm rather struck by how rapidly and dramatically you have turned on a dime -- from criticizing Obama's critics until very recently, to now being perhaps the most outspoken critic on this board over the last two or three days.

Please note that I don't begrudge you your considered opinion; as always, I respect your views a great deal. But the sudden and dramatic shift is notable.

Yes, those electroshock treatments are having a weird effect on me...

No, seriously, I just wrote another comment about this. See, I still support the Democratic Party and Obama. I'm disappointed but I know that the little contribution that I can offer, my vote, will be there. I have no doubts about that. But I think that as time goes on and more and more of the goals are blatantly abandoned, without even giving the impression of wanting to fight for them, the more people that will get turned off. And that hurts me double, because in addition to my own disappointment, I also have to worry about fewer and fewer people willing to come out and vote in the next election.

On top of that, I hear the same narrative that we heard (and I supported) during HCR regarding the extreme left, and it adds to the frustration, because, I truly don't think this is about an intransigent extreme left any longer. This is a much larger crowd. And dismissing their reaction will only further alienate those voters.

If you want to understand this better you have to know about soccer (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=191975&postcount=40). ;^)

chiwhisoxx
12-09-2010, 08:03 PM
So you seem to be telling me that the Republicans have simply won. Fabulous.


I know, right? :D

stephanie
12-09-2010, 08:12 PM
I know, right? :D

Heh.

And I know I was getting kind of ranty in the last post, so I'll just say it's that the frustration is getting to all of us.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 08:20 PM
Yes, those electroshock treatments are having a weird effect on me...
Heh.


No, seriously, I just wrote another comment about this. See, I still support the Democratic Party and Obama. I'm disappointed but I know that the little contribution that I can offer, my vote, will be there. I have no doubts about that. But I think that as time goes on and more and more of the goals are blatantly abandoned, without even giving the impression of wanting to fight for them, the more people that will get turned off. And that hurts me double, because in addition to my own disappointment, I also have to worry about fewer and fewer people willing to come out and vote in the next election.

On top of that, I hear the same narrative that we heard (and I supported) during HCR regarding the extreme left, and it adds to the frustration, because, I truly don't think this is about an intransigent extreme left any longer. This is a much larger crowd. And dismissing their reaction will only further alienate those voters.
I can relate to all of that. I have MSNBC on in the background; they just rebroadcast a powerful and moving speech Obama gave on the campaign trail in 2008, railing against the tax cuts for the rich, and forcefully declaring that he'd repeal them. Such a contrast to the dark days of December 2010.


If you want to understand this better you have to know about soccer (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=191975&postcount=40). ;^)
:-)

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 08:30 PM
the frustration is getting to all of us.

Tell me about it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4iOlVzkjB0).

Ocean
12-09-2010, 08:33 PM
So the Republicans win. That's what this means.

I hope not. But something will have to change substantially to increase the chances that it doesn't happen.

I mean, let's assume that everyone knows that failing to pass legislation that the base wants is seen as a failure by Obama (at least by the base and by lots of others, depending on the issue). I don't think that's all that disputed.

I don't know how others see it. But it's possible that Democratic voters don't see Obama as the only responsible actor but one important piece contributing to the failure.

But what does that mean? You seem to think the problem is that Obama et al. are failing to acknowledge this, that they assume it's cool with the base. And, yes, they've expressed frustration and various people (including some of us here) have tried to defend them against the charge that they just didn't care about passing whatever it is.

Yes, I know, I've been one of those defending him against the charge.

But I don't think it is. I think they know it's seen as a failure so would avoid that failure if they could, but structurally have not been able to pass what people want passed.

What's done is done. It's from now on that they can, perhaps, come up with a plan to show they're fighting for the things that the voters want.

So, again, what does this mean? Does it mean Obama's a crappy leader (as popcorn karate says) and someone else would have been successful? Maybe, although I'm skeptical when I remember Clinton and consider the alternatives.

I wouldn't say he's a crappy leader. I still have great respect for him and his intelligence. He's been the recipient of a terrible situation, with an extremely radicalized Republican party, and a bunch of contrarian Democrats who were sabotaging from the beginning. I don't know who, short of a political genius of historical dimensions could have gotten things done. I tend to blame the entire party as a block for not getting together behind their common goals.

But even so, the question is still what do we do now?

I feel more comfortable saying what not to do. Stop blaming the extreme left, because now, it's gone beyond them.

I'm seeing a bunch of frustration and anger (which again I totally relate to, even if I think a lot of it is misdirected when it seems to be more focused against Obama than the Republicans).

I'm frustrated, but not really angry at Obama. It's more a feeling of disappointment and watching the party do things that are counterproductive.


But I'm not seeing good alternative strategies. The idea that not passing anything is a better strategy than this compromise seems clearly wrong to me. Can we play politics and get something slightly better? Sure, maybe, and that would be great. But I feel like you all are saying it would be better to have no compromise of any sort and no legislation than give on the extension of tax cuts for the rich, and I think that's wrong politically, as well as policy-wise.*

I guess part of the art of politics is to know when something has to be done for political reasons, even if it doesn't seem to be the most rational, or mathematically correct thing to do. Some of those are symbolic. Reverting the tax cuts for the rich was one of those highly symbolic measures that would have been well received, and not doing it is like a slap on the face to the Dem voters.


But that I disagree (and presumably that the administration disagrees) does not mean that we don't see the frustration or think not getting stuff passed is not a problem. It's just that I'm not smart enough and maybe the adminstration aren't smart enough or good enough leaders or whatever to see how we can get all this stuff passed better than it has been, especially going forward.

I think that it isn't about lack of intelligence, but rather the political smarts that allow to keep aligned with the base.

So you seem to be telling me that the Republicans have simply won. Fabulous.

Hopefully not. And also, from a political perspective, memory is short. If there are really good moves in the next two years, and there aren't terrible bad moves then there's some hope. But I think people can tolerate not achieving goals after having a hard fight, than just giving in without trying much.

Of course, if the economy gets better, all bets are off.

Most likely, but the rest also counts.

*I'm not sure, but I think part of this argument is that the administration is discounting how disaffected the left will be if we allow the tax cuts for the rich to be extended. My response, again, is won't the left be disaffected if we don't extend unemployment insurance? Why is the one issue more significant? Because the Republicans will compromise on one and not the other?

Political posturing, as petty as it seems, counts. Republicans have been very good at it. Perhaps there's something to be learned.

Edit: And the "Obama lacks backbone" argument is not actually the same as "the Dems don't pass what they promise." Because the focus on backbone is basically saying we'd rather tell the Republicans to fuck off and then let the American people decide who to blame. Under that scenario there is no legislation passed on the key issues (well, except no one gets tax cuts and Obama gets to veto tax cut bills next year if he wants).

Sometimes that brings a lot of relief. That kind of relief also counts towards "satisfaction". It may feel better than getting a new watch, for example.

TwinSwords
12-09-2010, 09:07 PM
... from Atrios (http://www.eschatonblog.com/2010/12/it-gets-better.html):

It Gets Better

I'd say when I started blogging 8+ years ago (please kill me) the democratic coalition was not nearly as united on issues like gay rights as they are now. I'm pretty sure back then if a fucknozzle like Manchin had voted against DADT repeal there would have been a lot of people explaining that it was necessary to maintain support in WVA, blah blah blah. Now I think we're all united on the fact that he's a fucknozzle.

-Atrios

cragger
12-09-2010, 09:42 PM
Some context. The thread title regards Obama winning back some base. In my post, the point of which you speculate about, I talk about national Democrats because you can't easily judge the performance of an administration and its accomplishments or lack thereof without taking into consideration the accompanying congress. In this case that congress consists of a "large majority" of members of Obama's party, in part a majority elected with him, and in part consisting of Democrats elected two years earlier in what was certainly a reaction against the terrible government we previously had when the other party held both branches of congress and the White House.

It will also be useful to consider this a discussion that relates to that issue of motivating and mobilizing a base and the prospects of success, not the usual partisan argument in which everyone is trying to prove whether Obama and/or Democrats are truly wonderful or pure evil. I apologize if this seems obvious or condescending, but internet "discussions" do tend to turn easily to defensiveness (and offensiveness). There are traditions at work.

People do tend to vote for parties. Other than incumbents one might know, party affiliation is what folks have to use as a basis of choice, along with the campaign crap that nonpartisans with any sense largely dismiss as having much meaning beyond just possibly articulating some general sense of viewpoints for which the candidate promises to fight or work if elected. For this sense to have any lasting hold on the electorate, the rhetoric and promises have to eventually be matched with efforts and accomplishments.

In 2006 enough people basicaly said "Bush and the Republicans suck, let's change parties in congress and change the government we get." They changed parties in congress. The government we get didn't change appreciably. In 2008 they elected even more Democrats along with Obama. There were no significant accomplishments and damn few significant changes in areas people (at least some of us) consider important. (And please, please, nobody go HCR here. No, it wasn't socialist tyranny and no, it does nothing to address the base problems of health care costs and long term access.)

Twin mentioned a few of these issues elsewhere in this thread, along with a conclusion regarding the likely electorial impact for Obama and other Democrats:

there was a lot of moral outrage that fueled Democratic turnout in 2008 -- outrage over torture, war, police state powers, etc. And because he has failed to correct any of these problems, there will be significantly less energy in the Democratic base in 2012 than there was in 2008. I don't think Obama's chances in 2012 are looking too good; not when he has to win states like Ohio and Florida.

And that isn't close to the whole list of significant problems on which no progress has been made. Problems about which in some cases we undoubtedly have somewhat limited time windows within which to start making real progress. And in general, a lot of people look at the changes made in who they have elected to sit in the White House and congress and see what?

So Cragger's "argument', to the extent that poor internet fool has one, isn't about whether "Democrats" should all be adjudged equal and interchangable. It's that beyond experience and familiarity with what a particular politician has done over a period in office and loyalty to that individual, people vote for politicians by party and judge the results when that party is in office. And they voted Democrats into power in 2006 and 2008 and have gotten what our British cousins call "fuck all" as a result.

And that "we aren't quite as bad as them" as a slogan for a party that has, in office, been unable to deliver results and unwilling to fight for them isn't much for a president or a party to form, hold, and motivate a base with. Some will still go out and vote for the lessor of two evils, but a lot of not entirely unreasonable people will look at a party that doesn't deliver results and doesn't seem willing to put anything on the line and fight for results and principles and wonder just what the point is. Maybe it isn't always fair to lump not-Republicans under a party label, but the politicians in question do that, and that is how people look at them. For a lot of not-Republicans, its not a beguiling picture.

Wonderment
12-09-2010, 09:54 PM
...moving speech Obama gave on the campaign trail in 2008, railing against the tax cuts for the rich, and forcefully declaring that he'd repeal them.

That's a big problem. It's the promise gap. At the end of the day, you have to compare what he said he would do (not what he said he hoped to do, maybe if he got some cooperation and luck), and what he actually did.

On HCR he didn't fail in this way because a) he passed a bill (even if it didn't live up to progressive expectations and b) it was the kind of bill he talked about during the campaign, never having promised single payer.

On immigration reform, DADT and tax cuts for millionaires, however, he made explicit promises that he couldn't fulfill.

And then there's the Afghanistan war. While he never promised not to escalate, he certainly led progressives to believe he wouldn't. Beyond that, he has promised to begin the withdrawal in 2011, but his generals have been saying the contrary.

stephanie
12-10-2010, 01:36 PM
I guess part of the art of politics is to know when something has to be done for political reasons, even if it doesn't seem to be the most rational, or mathematically correct thing to do. Some of those are symbolic. Reverting the tax cuts for the rich was one of those highly symbolic measures that would have been well received, and not doing it is like a slap on the face to the Dem voters.

I guess I'm a "Dem voter" who doesn't value this kind of symbolism all that highly (I see it as basically like those TPer who are congratulating themselves for being all populist and sticking it to the elite when ensuring the victory of the Republican elite's economic program).

On the other hand, I think what we were getting as part of the compromise are valuable things about which I care, and if we give those things up simply to quash the 2 year-extension on the tax cuts for the rich, eh, that is a symbolic priority I don't understand, though I'd love to get rid of the cuts, sure. (Also, I think the deal uncouples the tax cuts for those making over $250K from the rest of the cuts, which are made permanent, so that's a good thing for the future debate.)

More significantly, what I'm seeing in the reaction (not from you, but more generally) is some degree of fury at Obama for even considering the compromise, like it's clearly better to have nothing than to compromise on this one issue. I just can't relate to having the issue so high in one's priorities, given the other things at stake here, so figure it's because of anger at being pushed around by the Republicans, and not tactical (which I get, but which I don't think is a good basis for policy decisions) or simply a real disconnect between the policy views of those who are really angry (which might be "the left," although I think it's more complicated than that) and those I, as a Dem voter, have. If we end this session without getting the backdoor stimulus or (more importantly) the unemployment extension, and everyone's taxes are going up, I'm just not going to be enthused because we stuck it to the Republicans on tax cuts.

I'll come around and remain aware that the underlying problem is the Republicans here, don't get me wrong. I just don't think you can assume that's the political reaction you are mostly going to get, and that it thereby justifies policy choices you wouldn't otherwise make. It's possible, though, that there's simply a disagreement about policy here, even though it really sounds to me that it's not.

Ah, well, I think I'm repeating myself at this point.

stephanie
12-10-2010, 03:18 PM
In my post, the point of which you speculate about, I talk about national Democrats because you can't easily judge the performance of an administration and its accomplishments or lack thereof without taking into consideration the accompanying congress.

I think we may just be talking past each other, but I'm thinking of this as going forward, what? What do the people who are upset (from the left) with the Dems propose to do? It seems to me, that the notion is that they might as well go for a third party, not vote Dem, not vote for Obama (or support a challenger on the left, although I don't actually think that's likely to happen at all seriously)? With regard to all of these questions, I don't think it makes sense to focus on "the Dems," as if the fact that Evan Bayh does something or other should determine who I vote for (as I don't live in IN, even if he were running).

If we all agree that Obama has wanted to pass legislation that has not been passed, and the reason why is not simply that the Republicans have maintained practical unanimity, but also that a portion of the Congressional Dems, depending on the issue, don't actually agree with the administration on the legislation in question, we are left (again) with the question of how to react to this. (Note: I realize that some may claim that Obama is just pretending to want to pass anything beyond what's been passed, but I don't think that's a reasonable claim as to all of these issues.) Again, I don't think it makes sense to say "eh, the Dems and Republicans are all the same, it doesn't matter who is in power."

So this is where we get into the types of discussions that the Republicans have been having and some may (reasonably, IMO) claim that it makes sense to reward the Dems who supported the legislation you like and punish those who did not, so we should support primary challenges against blue dogs or blue dogs in some states and so on, and that's certainly a debate we can have. But again I don't understand the notion that because the Dem majority isn't as much of a majority as it appeared on the surface and because the Republicans managed to be united and thus super effective, even on issues they were expected to blink on (in part because they learned that doing so hurt the Dems and not them), that we should stop caring about the Dems or Obama. Would we have this reaction if the majority, initially, had been much less (assume the more conservative Dems were instead Republicans)? I don't think so, yet it's the same kind of dynamic that is leading to the failures that people are talking about here, not that Obama is some secret Republican (I hear all the best Kenyan Muslims are Republicans).

I also agree that one can suspect that a better leader could have gotten those unruly Dems, even the conservative ones, into line, but I'm just skeptical that this is the case in this era. I do completely agree with the line of argument that says the White House has made some tactical mistakes, both in failing to risk political defeats on some issues (voting on the tax cuts before the election, for example) and in framing a variety of issues, and I think this relates to them being nervous both about populist appeals and seeming too left wing, but I think that's a different matter than the overall "the Dems stand for nothing but slightly less bad Republicans" that sems to be the reaction of the left and the excuse for turning against Obama.

Finally, on this point, it always seems to me that the rightwing gets upset and turns against the moderate Republicans (or those in power, depending), but always as part of a strategy that is most directed at issues and at railing against those on the other side of the issue, who are strongly labeled as leftists and so on. In other words, even in their intra party spats, they seem to direct their most effective hatred toward the Dems. (It's possible I have a biased view of this, granted, and I admit that a lack of enthusiasm toward McCain by the right hurt him.)

The left, it seems to me (and I think this is where the administration's anger is coming from) don't do this. Rather than directing their ire most at the Republicans, they seem to write off the Republicans from the beginning as irrelevant and direct their real anger at other Dems, claiming betrayal. I don't at all mind the left pushing their goals or disagreeing with Obama, but I wish they'd do it in a way that didn't insist on moderate Dems as the main and worst enemy.

It will also be useful to consider this a discussion that relates to that issue of motivating and mobilizing a base and the prospects of success, not the usual partisan argument in which everyone is trying to prove whether Obama and/or Democrats are truly wonderful or pure evil.

I agree that this is the more interesting conversation, and am interested in your thoughts on this question. (I'm somewhat curious to what extent there's a real split in the party so that mobilizing one aspect of the base turns off other Dem voters vs. there being more of a strategy disagreement. Also, I think it's important to note that there's not really one "left," as those most left on some issues aren't necessarily the most "left" on others.)

This is getting long so I'm going to leave it here for now, although I had thoughts about the rest of your post also.

Wonderment
12-10-2010, 05:44 PM
And that "we aren't quite as bad as them" as a slogan for a party that has, in office, been unable to deliver results and unwilling to fight for them isn't much for a president or a party to form, hold, and motivate a base with.

It's especially disturbing that the party and the candidate can run on "Change You Can Believe In" and "Yes, We Can!", but once in office pivot to "Change is nearly impossible, and we probably can't."

There are only two ways to interpret that gap between rhetoric and reality: 1) the rhetoric was disingenuous to begin with or 2) Democrats suck at governing.

If campaigns are just circuses in which candidates bedazzle the electorate with smoke, mirrors and claims of magical powers (including the power of integrity), then we can't expect to inspire serious people, especially young, idealistic people with firm principles. You simply lose a lot of them when they figure out what's really going on.

In other words, the gap between rhetoric and promises on the one hand and performance on the other WILL disenchant some voters. True, most of us will still vote against an even worse Republican opposition. But the question is not will Obama alienate and lose his base, but rather how much of the already-lost/bored/disenchanted base will cost him the election in 2012.

Wonderment
12-10-2010, 05:51 PM
....the reaction of the left and the excuse for turning against Obama.

I think the response of many on the left is that Obama has turned against them.

I am willing to grant him all his excuses and justifications for moderation, and I won't be voting R any time soon, but I don't see how Obama can do a repeat performance in 2012 of his 2008 campaign impersonation of MLK, César Chávez and himself as Nobel Peace Laureate/Gitmo-closing human rights champion.

That he can't repeat the campaign with a straight face is going to cost him.

Ocean
12-10-2010, 05:55 PM
In other words, the gap between rhetoric and promises on the one hand and performance on the other WILL disenchant some voters. True, most of us will still vote against an even worse Republican opposition. But the question is not will Obama alienate and lose his base, but rather how much of the already-lost/bored/disenchanted base will cost him the election in 2012.

And if re-elected, what will that do? Save us from the even worse Republican agenda? Is that all? I can't see how the Democratic agenda would get passed considering what we've seen so far. That's the only point that I think is still worth discussing. What is going to be the strategy from now on? When negotiation and compromise are being considered, what are the chances that the Republicans will want to play a clean game?

The main purpose of this thread is to get the idea across that something has to be done differently in order to minimize the damage and perhaps, improve the chances of passing some meaningful legislation.

Wonderment
12-10-2010, 06:08 PM
What is going to be the strategy from now on? When negotiation and compromise are being considered, what are the chances that the Republicans will want to play a clean game?

Zero.

The main purpose of this thread is to get the idea across that something has to be done differently in order to minimize the damage and perhaps, improve the chances of passing some meaningful legislation.

I hate to sound pessimistic, and I do want to have the conversation about future strategies, but I am not hopeful about the next few years.

The thing I'm happiest about with the Obama administration is that he got two liberals on the Supreme Court, even if they were replacement liberals. Re-electing Obama in 2012 and a Dem. in 2016 will ensure that the radical right does not take over the court for at least another decade.

AemJeff
12-10-2010, 06:17 PM
I guess I'm a "Dem voter" who doesn't value this kind of symbolism all that highly (I see it as basically like those TPer who are congratulating themselves for being all populist and sticking it to the elite when ensuring the victory of the Republican elite's economic program).

On the other hand, I think what we were getting as part of the compromise are valuable things about which I care, and if we give those things up simply to quash the 2 year-extension on the tax cuts for the rich, eh, that is a symbolic priority I don't understand, though I'd love to get rid of the cuts, sure. (Also, I think the deal uncouples the tax cuts for those making over $250K from the rest of the cuts, which are made permanent, so that's a good thing for the future debate.)

More significantly, what I'm seeing in the reaction (not from you, but more generally) is some degree of fury at Obama for even considering the compromise, like it's clearly better to have nothing than to compromise on this one issue. I just can't relate to having the issue so high in one's priorities, given the other things at stake here, so figure it's because of anger at being pushed around by the Republicans, and not tactical (which I get, but which I don't think is a good basis for policy decisions) or simply a real disconnect between the policy views of those who are really angry (which might be "the left," although I think it's more complicated than that) and those I, as a Dem voter, have. If we end this session without getting the backdoor stimulus or (more importantly) the unemployment extension, and everyone's taxes are going up, I'm just not going to be enthused because we stuck it to the Republicans on tax cuts.

I'll come around and remain aware that the underlying problem is the Republicans here, don't get me wrong. I just don't think you can assume that's the political reaction you are mostly going to get, and that it thereby justifies policy choices you wouldn't otherwise make. It's possible, though, that there's simply a disagreement about policy here, even though it really sounds to me that it's not.

Ah, well, I think I'm repeating myself at this point.

I'd just like to say that I fully endorse the point of view Stephanie has expressed in this post. I won't go so far as to say that I don't feel some vicarious joy in the House "rebellion", but I thought Obama's compromise was well played. Maybe the Senate Republicans will cave on something important; but if they don't, I think it will have the effect of weakening the Democratic position going forward.

AemJeff
12-10-2010, 06:22 PM
Zero.



I hate to sound pessimistic, and I do want to have the conversation about future strategies, but I am not hopeful about the next few years.

The thing I'm happiest about with the Obama administration is that he got two liberals on the Supreme Court, even if they were replacement liberals. Re-electing Obama in 2012 and a Dem. in 2016 will ensure that the radical right does not take over the court for at least another decade.

And that's the deep game being needlessly (I think) put at risk by what I believe is a lot of misplaced anger.

stephanie
12-10-2010, 06:49 PM
And if re-elected, what will that do? Save us from the even worse Republican agenda? Is that all? I can't see how the Democratic agenda would get passed considering what we've seen so far. That's the only point that I think is still worth discussing. What is going to be the strategy from now on? When negotiation and compromise are being considered, what are the chances that the Republicans will want to play a clean game?

It seems to me that in '08 people didn't think the Republicans would be able to get away with just being obstructionist. That they wouldn't be able to maintain unanimity against Obama given the popularity of Obama, the clear desire of the people for change, and the fact that it would mean opposing some popular items that ought to at least create cracks in their coalition.

This didn't happen. Partially it didn't because of bumbling by the Dems -- I'd say extremely poor handling of the initial stimulus bill and bad framing of the health care bill (although that was an issue extremely difficult to handle politically, even if the left is unwilling to admit that now). Partially it didn't because of the economy (and people all knew that the likely lingering bad economy would soon enough be a problem, even on election day). But -- and this is what is really frustrating me here -- in large part it didn't because the fallout of the Republican obstructionism was felt far more by the Dems. So much more that it only encourages continued such efforts (which are much easier now).

The main purpose of this thread is to get the idea across that something has to be done differently in order to minimize the damage and perhaps, improve the chances of passing some meaningful legislation.

But I certainly don't think anyone thinks things have just been great, so we need to say it's not. Everyone knows what the frustration is. The problem -- and this is why many of us are emphasizing that it's not been in Obama's control, that the Republicans and some conservative Dems have been successful in avoiding the legislative efforts -- is that even seeing that it's not a success to not pass stuff and lose your majority (or most of it), the hard question is still what else can be done. I'm not pointing out the problems to "make excuses" as those who are all focused on their anger against Obama seem to think. It's because I see these things as a real problem. So when you say we need to improve the changes of passing meaningful legislation (and I do see health care as meaningful), I'm left asking "how." Not to be argumentative, but because I honestly do not know.

Of course, things are even harder from here on out, although expectations will be lower too, I suppose.

stephanie
12-10-2010, 07:01 PM
I won't go so far as to say that I don't feel some vicarious joy in the House "rebellion"

Oh, me too.

Ocean
12-10-2010, 07:08 PM
This didn't happen. Partially it didn't because of bumbling by the Dems -- I'd say extremely poor handling of the initial stimulus bill and bad framing of the health care bill (although that was an issue extremely difficult to handle politically, even if the left is unwilling to admit that now). Partially it didn't because of the economy (and people all knew that the likely lingering bad economy would soon enough be a problem, even on election day).

So, those are two areas that you identify as having room for improvement. What could have been done differently? I'm not suggesting that you answer that question, but rather that's the question that the Democrats need to be asking and exploring different ways of solving that kind of problem.


Great. We all agree. What do you suggest? Granted, it doesn't seem all that likely at this point.

Perhaps the first step is trying to increase the number of seats in the House and Senate for the next election cycle. Also try to see if the legislators that get elected will be amenable to work in a coordinated fashion so that legislation can get passed. Get Obama re-elected. And in the meantime, practice different strategies for dealing with the Republicans and their obstructionism. Identify the Republican agendas that can be most detrimental and focus on how to prevent them. And try to show that there is a learning-from-one's-mistake process by trying different strategies. Get people informed about the process.

Hey, I'm not a politician! I'm just trying to communicate what I think people who are not the radical left, but are unhappy with the recent proposed negotiations may be responding to. I wish I had the right answers, but I can only offer relevant questions.

stephanie
12-10-2010, 07:21 PM
Hey, I'm not a politician! I'm just trying to communicate what I think people who are not the radical left, but are unhappy with the recent proposed negotiations may be responding to. I wish I had the right answers, but I can only offer relevant questions.

I edited that last bit because it sounded snarkier than I intended, but you responded before I did (just saying in case you want to see v. 2 and to sort of explain away the snark).

Ocean
12-10-2010, 07:31 PM
I edited that last bit because it sounded snarkier than I intended, but you responded before I did (just saying in case you want to see v. 2 and to sort of explain away the snark).

Okay, I just checked your revision. But don't worry, I didn't interpret your comment negatively. I think that we've expressed our thoughts in this forum for long enough that we know what to expect. We are on the same side of the ideological divide, with minor differences. We're probably both frustrated by the same political realities. And in this thread we engaged in "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" types of roles. It's always healthy to try and look at these problems from different angles, and try to understand all groups and perspectives within the party. If we were always in agreement and satisfied, there wouldn't be progress. Or that's the way I see it.